The top three things to quit in 2018: all or nothing thinking, energy vampires, measuring and comparing.
I once had a trainer who gave me good advice: change one thing at a time if you want to see change, be consistent and over time, you'll get results.
But what happens when life gets in the way? Do you say f-it and throw it all to the wind? Do you slowly hop back on the wagon and give yourself a pep talk? Do you have good support around you - friends and partners that will offer the kind of advice you might want to hear, but that always serves you well?
In the spirit of throwing the all or nothing approach to the wind, especially during such a busy time of year, here are a few tips for making small changes that might give you a little momentum in a positive direction. They just involve changing one thing ---- while staying true to your goals and yourself:
1. Trying to stick to your fitness goals and routine? If you miss a workout, don't beat yourself up. Go for a long walk instead. Use it as an excuse to check out a new restaurant and get in your exercise en route. (I really like this idea by the way. I heard about a group of women in LA a while back who was training for a marathon and would use running as an excuse to check out new brunch and lunch spots all over the city. What a fun way to check out new places and get in miles along the way!) PS: 98% of all of the fat burning happens while you are asleep, not during your workout.
2. Watching your diet and trying to eat healthier but those holiday parties seem like they are taking you way off course? Take a meal off. If you have holiday plans and go overboard, it's cool, just give your belly a break at breakfast or dinner time. Blend up a quick soup or 'break the fast' at breakfast with a smoothie or fresh juice. Keep the sugars low, add some good quality protein powder and let your body do some deep cleaning from the night before.
3. Feeling frazzled but meditation seems pretty far-fetched? Just turn off your cell phone. Just for a night - see what inspiration bubbles up or what else gets done. You'll be amazed what free time you have - no really, you have more time than you think.
4. Low-carb, keto, zone, Paleo? Don't know what advice to follow? OIY, I feel ya. The easiest rule of thumb is to add more vegetables and reduce the white stuff. Instead of pasta, try zoodles! Ok, seriously though - I was cautiously optimistic about the zucchini spiral noodle hype and while I mean, come on --- let's be honest, they are no swap for pasta -- I subbed them in last night, added garlic, some sauce I had and voila, a 5-minute low carb dinner.
5. Bullet Journal? Mindfulness Journal? Covey's planning methods? Don't know what to use? Instead of writing a to-do list for the next day, spend 5 minutes writing a gratitude list from today. List the peaks and do more of that the next day.
Bonus tip: you probably have some majorly unused sick and personal days that go away at the end of the year. Now is the time to use them. Take a day off! #mentalhealthday. I promise I won't tell! :)
I'll get to the red polka dot sneakers in a sec. Hold your horses. :)
It's Monday, it's post-Thanksgiving. You did it! You survived working full time, grocery shopping, getting the house cleaned, the cooking prep, cooking, dinner and lived to tell the story.
Well, maybe not all of you had a stressful holiday, but I'm guessing many of you did - and if you're lucky, it's smooth sailing from here and off to an awesome yoga retreat to bring in the New Year. You're probably thinking, yeah right! December is packed! In a week and a half, I have to figure out how to squeeze into my dress for the work holiday party, what to bring to the neighborhood get together, and how to get through it all sanely while being a good partner, boss, and co-worker. Not to mention a good parent or a soon-to-be parent.
Stress. Do you ever wonder where it comes from? Is it fear? Fear of failure? Fear of people realizing you are not happy? Fear of saying something you'll regret? Fear of being authentic to your voice, your feelings, your true self? Fear of biting your tongue again, just one last time, to save face, to avoid what needs to be said - because it's not worth the loss? Maybe those internal voices say "it's not worth it because he/she/they will never change", or "if I speak up, he/she can't handle it and I will be fired", or maybe you know you need R&R and yoga, but instead you decide to go anyway and mutter to yourself, "I need a glass of wine to cope with this social situation."
I know this stress because I lived with it for longer than I care to admit. I felt like I had to be strong at work to be respected as a leader and to succeed, and in my personal life, was also in the driver's seat having to make all of the decisions, when all I really wanted was to not lead for a while. It was hard and palpable and exasperatingly frustrating. To make matters worse, I was charging day after day physically doing cross fit or HIIT workouts (for the calorie burn of course because I wasn't at my goal weight) when I knew in my heart, I just needed to lay down in a gentle yoga class but was scared to, for fear of what I might feel.
That's why, I wanted to ask you something. What if, for just one day, you could let go of one thing that is not serving you anymore, what would that one thing be? For the next 21 days, which includes my upcoming birthday, I'll be writing about letting go. To do that, I am also starting a cleanse to help clear my mind, release those pesky negative thoughts and feel more whole and light in my body.
Would you like to follow along? I'll be sharing recipes and tips on social media below and would LOVE some company. As always, if you need an extra helping hand this holiday season, please contact me for a free consultation.
PS: Ok, back to the shoes, I know you all were dying of suspense. I got those because I loved them. They are ridiculous, but I loved them and I wore them to work and rocked them. People made fun of me, and I kept rocking them. They made me SO happy - seriously. I mean, when was the last time you busted out and did something that made you feel like "hell yeah"?
When was the last time you really let yourself rest? Everyone talks about unplugging for a day but can you remember the last time you didn't have a cell signal for 3 days? More? The kind of rest that comes with a long weekend in the backcountry (if you're into that kind of thing), or just time away doing what you love or nothing at all - the key is no cell service or WIFI.
It's so important - now more than ever - to create the space to let your mind wander. Even if all your mind wants to do is replay an event, a situation over and over, it's the start of a process of letting go. Now, I know that doesn't sound ideal, sitting around listening to the broken record in your head, but it's an important part of the process of letting go, getting quiet, and listening to your heart.
A few years ago, my older sister and I went to a women's yoga retreat at a hot spring in Northern California. As I drove to the retreat, the road twisted and turned, right into what felt like the belly - wooded, beautiful, quiet, comforting and remote. We stayed in a yurt where there was no cell service and no WIFI. My first night there, I sat in bed at 6 pm reading magazines by myself. It was dark out, so finally, after an hour of total boredom, I turned in and didn't wake up until 9 am the next morning. It had been a while since I'd slept like that.
As the retreat unfolded, so did I. The space felt so safe. Surrounded by wonderful, supportive women, I was able to move through the process of letting go, forgiving, and healing. (If you're interested, I highly recommend checking out www.Katiesilcox.com - she led the retreat.) While I expected Vinyasa like all of the other Type A's there, it was pretty much the opposite. Katie knew that's what we all were expecting, and chuckled lovingly, "All you Northern California girls - you're always so tough, so strong - you have everything handled. Let's let our guard down for a few days. Ok and fine, I'll give you a few sun salutations but that's it." For me, sitting quietly and leaning into the unexpected was uncomfortable, risky, weird and amazing all rolled up together.
A friend told me recently that in Japanese culture, they believe that your mind waits until it's quiet to resolve challenges, obstacles and the chatter that is often playing on repeat. And, for those who've struggled with sleep for as long as I have, you probably know when that happens. Yes, that's right -- 2-3am. I'm right there with you.
And you probably already know the answer about how to best move through that process - for you. It could be meditation, yoga, long walks, journaling, talking with friends, or just totally unplugging. So then, why is it so hard not to? Well, for me, it boils down to fear. It can be downright awful, hard, painful, sad, maddening to face those thoughts. I mean, who really wants to melt down in a yoga class? And yes, that has happened to me - it's probably happened to all of us.
When you get quiet and lean in, everything quiets down. And when you do it consistently, you'll find you can finally sleep. And because of that, you'll be a better version of yourself so you can show up for others in a loving way - as a parent/friend/colleague/boss.
This time of year is the perfect time to take time for yourself, to go inward, to process, lean in and practice some good, loving self-care. Whether it's an hour a day, or a week-long retreat, fill up your cup first and ask for the support from your partner, friends, and family to take that time and be with yourself. It might just be the best hour (day, week) you've had in a long time.
I keep a jar like this on my bedside table and fill it up with thankful notes every chance I get. Some use a journal to do this and there are a million tools out there to help you cultivate and focus on things you are thankful for. Whether it's journaling, yoga, or a morning walk, shifting your attention to gratitude can make a world of difference in your outlook.
For example, a few years ago I had to have ear surgery. While it was relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, and many have so much more to bear, to me, it felt major. I had never had surgery and I found myself almost immediately caught up thinking about the "what ifs". What if I had a dairy allergy that caused all of my ear infections, what if I had just had allergy testing? Would that have prevented the need to have surgery?" And on and on. As I was going through the myriad of appointments, I of course, found myself caught up in the 'why me?' narrative. While that's perfectly normal, it started to make me more and more anxious. I knew that, regardless of how I could have prevented the surgery, it had to happen, and I had pretty much no control over the situation, so I went searching for ways to shift my perspective.
I decided to keep a small notebook with me during my 4 hour drives back and forth to Stanford. While I was in the waiting room, or just waiting in general, if I found myself feeling anxious or negative, I'd spend five minutes and jot down 5-10 things I was grateful for about the situation. I still have those notes - they read something like this: "thankful for western medicine", "thankful for health insurance", "thankful I have the resources to go to Stanford with amazing, caring doctors", "grateful I'm being taken good care of by this team". Simple, yes, and super powerful.
This time of year, with the holidays right around the corner, it's so easy to get swept up in negative or anxious thinking. So let this idea settle in: you do have power over your thoughts and where you put your energy. Choose gratitude. Choose to be thankful.
Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to write down one or two things every day you are grateful for, put them in a journal or a mason jar like I do, and read through them with a friend, with family, with someone you care about. Better yet, read through them at Thanksgiving and ask others to do the same. Follow my journey on social too - I'll be posting daily too. I can't imagine a better way to celebrate giving thanks.
- With gratitude, Erika