Why Meditate?

If you follow me regularly, then you know that I am in the group of people I affectionately describe as ED or Easily Distracted.  Over the years I have practiced many tools to try to get myself more organized and focused.  I have tried a gazillion different planners and to-do list systems.  I have tried positive reinforcement- rewarding myself for staying on track.  I have discovered that there are a few key tools that have worked for me and I recommend that everyone who finds themselves in this category give them a try.  They are not what you think.  It’s not an organization system or a maid.  They are:  change your diet, exercise in a way that you enjoy, and practice meditation/mindfulness.

Above and beyond any of the tools or strategies I have tried, those three are the ones that actually brought me clarity of mind.  And I find that no matter what planner or scheduler I’m using, if my diet is really off, if I’m not moving my body regularly, and if I’m not meditating, then I start to get a sort of “brain-fog.”  

Today’s post is hopefully going to convince you to give meditation a try.

So- why meditate?  

Looking around at the Googs I came across a few good reasons.  Here are some I found on chopra.com:

  • Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
  • Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • More efficient oxygen use by the body
  • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
  • Restful sleep

These are all wonderful side effects.  What I don’t see when I do a search, is something that I find super valuable and has happened to me and many of the people that I work with.  When you meditate, you practice “giving your brain a break.”  Many of us in the ED group have anxiety, ADHD, depression, or just crazy, busy jobs or families.  If you have any one of those you are aware that your thoughts can tend to spiral out of control at times.  You might especially notice it when you finally try to fall asleep.  You may be exhausted, but your brain doesn’t know how to pause those thoughts.  The practice of meditation gives our brains brief respite.  Over time, if you put the time in, you will get longer and longer pauses between thoughts.  Many people find it helpful to listen to guided meditations at night time to help fall asleep.  This is helpful, but to get the most benefit, I highly recommend setting aside a regular time of your day to sit somewhere and either meditate on your own or to listen to a guided meditation.  For me, that time is 5am.  Every morning my alarm goes off at 5, I make coffee and get into my meditation spot.  Right now that is on my couch.  I tuck in and my dogs generally join me.  I turn on my favorite meditation app, Insight Timer by 5:15am.  

I have found that there are huge benefits from this.  As a member of the ED group, I am in great need of routine.  I need consistency.  Now that this has become my routine, I find myself following these steps without thinking about it.  That makes it more likely that it will continue to happen.  I do a short guided meditation depending on my current mood and what my day has in store.  Then when the guided meditation is over, I either do a silent meditation, or a focused meditation on what my day has in store for me.  So my mind has been cleared and I am calm and focused by the guided meditation, and my next meditation gets me focused on my day.  I am more organized and likely to get my priority to-dos done when I do this kind of focused meditation.  

I know that I have said before that meditation can be really difficult for those with ED.  When your thoughts are constantly racing, sitting down to “silence” can be terrifying.  Plus, many people have a misconception that when they meditate they should be able to clear their mind of thoughts and sit serenely in silence.  But, this is not how it really works.  

In my next post I am going to do an intro to how to get started with meditation.  If you are ready to start right now, I highly recommend Insight Timer and the 20/20 Meditate for Peace, led by Michelle Zarrin.  It starts with one minute of meditation, and each day for 20 days you add another minute.  The meditations build on each other and Michelle adds another piece to focus on every day.  It’s pretty great.  

I’m considering forming a group for those who are ready to start meditating in February.  Comment below if you would be interested in joining!

 

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips with Keysa Hale

Keysa Hale, Health Coach

When you’ve been working hard to focus on your health all year, it can be difficult to figure out how to keep up that focus during the holiday season.  We want to enjoy our holidays, but celebrations are often based around food and decadent desserts.  So how do you stay healthy without gaining a ton of weight?  Keysa Amaro, Health Coach has the answers for you in our Healthy Holiday Eating Podcast:

Show Notes:

Where to find Keysa:
Facebook
Email
Instagram

Acting from Power, not Fear

You may have noticed that I’ve been missing for a little while.  I took a break from Facebook, where I am generally quite active.

After the election on November 8, Facebook got a bit emotional.  And I needed to take a break.  There was too much to process, and I felt myself getting swept up.  I was torn, I had so much to say, so much to express, but I was not able to do it from a place of power at the time.  I was too much in fear.  So I made a commitment to a week away.

Taking a break was a really smart step for me, and although it was painful, I’m glad that I didn’t shut myself off before the results came in.  I needed to see and feel all the raw pain that was being expressed and shared.  I needed to know.  But, as I say to my clients sometimes, it’s okay to visit the lands of despair, sadness and anger, but try not to live there.  I found myself unpacking my bags, putting on the gloves, and shadow-boxing in the corner.  I could feel the emotions building up, looking for a target.  And because the emotions were so wild, I was searching in all directions for something to DO.

So, I took a break, before I sucker punched the wrong person.

In my absence, I decided to take my own advice.  I got back to the basics.  When you are feeling like a victim, feeling like you are powerless, go back to the things that center you.  For me, those things are waking up at 5am to meditate, snuggling my dogs for an hour before I start getting ready for work.  Two days a week I go to Crossfit before work.  When I’m getting ready I put on uplifting, upbeat music while I shower and get ready, and when I decide on an outfit, I pick something that is going to make me smile.  I made sure to drink some water every day.  I thought about the things I’m grateful for.

One of the hard things to do was to get back to work.  As a therapist and a coach, it’s important to be completely present with your clients.  This is why meditating every morning was so important.  If I was distracted, I wouldn’t be able to be there for the people who needed me.  I wouldn’t be able to really listen.

And I took the time to dissect what I was feeling.  Here’s what I learned:

I am angry.  Part of me is just angry that my team lost, but that is nowhere near the extent of it.  I’m angry that my job is about to get so much harder.  I’m angry that people I work with have been the target of racist remarks, told to go back “home.”  I’m angry that those people who really needed the insurance they are getting, the ones coming to see me to get better so they don’t need to rely on benefits anymore, are going to lose it.  And we’ll still have to pay for them when they visit the emergency room, or when they can’t hold it together to keep their job, and when they can’t figure out how to deal with their trauma.  I’m angry at the people on either side of the race who are using this as an excuse for intolerance.  “Libtards,” “Deplorables,” and a thousand more divisive terms show how far this election broke us apart.

I’m sad.  I am grieving so many things.  I completely understand that we need to fix our health care system and that it’s a scary world out there.  However, even if I really liked or agreed with President-elect Trump’s solutions, there was no way I was going to be able to over look his personality.  If there was only slip-up, maybe he made fun of the disabled reporter and then immediately went, “Oh my god, that was horrible, I’m so sorry, I’ll never do anything like that again” then maybe I could get past it.  But there were so many.  The truth is, I’m not mad at Trump.  He’s an asshole, but he’s just doing the best he can.  He actually thinks that way, that when somebody talks about me, I make fun of them.  He calls names.  He labels people.  “Crooked Hillary” “Lyin’ Ted.”  Anyway, I’m not mad at Trump.  I am just unbelievably sad and angry that so many people encouraged him.  That people I know and love made excuses for him.

The biggest thing I’m grieving are my beliefs about the priorities of the American people.  That we are a people who love each other, who believe in equality and humanity.  That we put the importance of the health of the planet over wealth.  That we believe in peace.  That we believe in tolerance.  We are a country that is supposed to believe that we can do anything, come from nothing and make something of ourselves, that we can overcome the impossible.  And I felt like we voted for fear.  For get those people out.  For I want mine.  For I can’t help you.  My emotions were so strong because my belief in us is so strong, and voting for the ideals that Trump embodies was beyond my imagination.

The hardest feeling, the one that took some time to pinpoint was doubt.  I started to doubt myself.  I started to doubt everything.  I started to feel like I was being delusional, living in an “I believe in the goodness of humanity” dream.  Like maybe everything I believed was a lie.  That’s the one that got me off of Facebook.  I needed to look that one in the eye.

So.  Now what?  I’m not going to pretend that I’m not feeling these feelings.  I’m not going to pretend like everything’s fine, although it’s been requested that I stop being so vocal and out there about it.  I’ve gotten the message, thank you very much, that I (and everyone else feeling these feelings) should just stop whining and give Trump a chance.  That I should get over it.  That I shouldn’t be so mad, he’s going to fix our insurance.  Is that how to handle it? I’ve decided a couple of things.

  1. I am not going to shut up.
  2. You can’t fight hate with hate.  I refuse to be a part of the name-calling.  I will not unfriend you for voting for Trump (I will unfriend you for being an asshole).  I do not support violence.  I will support any of Trump’s decisions that are designed to uplift America, to build us, to unite us.  I will oppose any that are designed to divide, to take away rights, to leave anyone out.  I will oppose any that appear to be beneficial but carry veiled threats.
  3. This election was a wake up call.  We are being called to serve and we all need to figure out what that means for each of us.  During my break over the week I thought about what this means for me.  I am good at listening, at problem-solving, at helping others create plans and execute them.  So I’m in the process of creating a mastermind group for 6-10 progressive, restless folks who are looking for direction after the election, who are looking to act from a place of power and strength, not fear.

Please, I beg you, join me.  Join me in spreading love.  Join me in turning this pain and fear into action.  Join me in being a part of the solution.

 

What’s more important when it comes to your food? Quality or Quantity?

What’s more important when it comes to your food?  Quality or Quantity?

Keysa Hale, Health Coach
Keysa Hale, Health Coach

 

You’ve been working hard, dieting, trying to lose weight, but no matter how hard you’ve tried the weight either remains, or comes back with a vengeance.  Listen to my interview with Keysa Hale, a Holistic Health Coach, where we talk about food quality and share some tips not only on how to make healthy eating a little easier, but more efficient and smarter.

And, as promised, links to resources:

Your Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels

and

Understanding Ingredients on Food Labels

Make a Career Change with Me

Join me on May 16 while I help lead a small group to map out a change in their careers.  If you’re feeling stuck in a job that you hate, or feel like there is more that you can offer to the world, say yes to this class.

Now is the time!

On May 16th you’ll receive your first email challenge and we’ll all check in Thursday evening at 5:30pm EST.  Throughout the course we will use a variety of techniques to help you figure out what is next.

When the class is done, you will take with you a small group of buddies to keep you accountable, as well as a physical piece of paper that will show you what your next steps on your journey will be.

We’ll take your dreams of a career change to reality.

Pay Now- $297 for an incredible 6 week course.


The Escape Room and Resolution Tips

Today is a solo podcast, Nathan is down for the count.  I talk about the Bear Towne Escape Room and give some tips for keeping your goals and resolutions on your mind.

Have a great weekend!

The Bear Towne Escape Room

The Success Principles(TM) – 10th Anniversary Edition: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

Revive that Resolution: Part 1- Rewrite It

So here we are.  Today is January 25, 2016.  We are 25 days into the new year.  It is the time in January when all of the newness is starting to wear off.  The holidays are over, work and school routines are back to normal.  

I personally love January.  New Year’s Day brings with it a sense of hope, of change, of starting over.  It gives us a metaphorical finish line.  The end of one year, the beginning of the next.  It is a time when massive amounts of people are all feeling motivated together.  This is the year that they are going to quit smoking, lose the weight, fix their relationship, pay off the debt, or organize the closets.  You can almost feel the electricity in the air, the collective motivation and positive thinking of hundreds of thousands of people at the same time.  In January gym memberships rise, DIY books fly off the shelves, and everyone at work brings a salad for lunch.  

But we have a problem.  We have the motivation, the determination, the drive- but most of us have not been taught the tools to create goals and resolutions that are geared toward long-term success.  Do you have a resolution that fizzed out a week ago?  Or are you still working on it, but kind of half-heartedly?  Do you find yourself feeling guilty, beating yourself up, or getting frustrated because you keep “slipping up?”

I have a secret.  It’s not because you’re not motivated enough.  It’s not because you don’t care.  It’s not because there is something wrong with you.  You just need to tweak your resolution a bit and get into the mindset of long-term change.

Here’s a few things you can do to revive that withering resolution.

For the following tips, I’m going to use, as an example, a very common resolution I hear- “I’m going to lose 30 pounds.”  

First things first, write it down.  This is absolutely crucial.  Way too often we find ourselves making a promise at the new year and we shout it into the air or promise ourselves quietly that this time we mean it.  But we never write it down.  Why?  We think that it’s so important to us that we don’t need to write it down.  But, I’m telling you that’s wrong.  You need to write it down.  In fact, go get a 3×5 index card or a piece of paper and a pen right now.  Write down your goal.  Do it, I’ll wait.  I mean it.  Done?  Ok, now we are going to rework it a bit with our SMART acronym.

 

  • Make it Specific.  Who says our goal has to be a one-liner?  Who told you that you can only use 5 words when stating your resolution?  Let’s get crafty here and give it a lot of detail.  Our sample goal, “I’m going to lose 30 pounds” is a good start.  It has a number, 30, but we can add some more details to this.  How much do you weigh right now?  165?  Great.  Why do you want to lose 30 pounds?  To look great for your friend’s wedding?  To get your blood pressure down?  To fit in those expensive jeans you bought?  To be a good role model for your daughter?  What is your reason for the weight loss?

    If your goal is about creating a habit, like “eating healthier”  what does that look like?  Are you following a paleo diet?  Are you eliminating some foods?  Are you eating less calories?  

  • Make it Measurable.  Our example above is fairly easy to measure as long as we know what weight we started at and then subtract 30.  A different goal like “quit smoking” is harder to quantify, but you need to put in the time to do so.  What will it look like when you have quit?  How will I know you have quit?  How many days or weeks will have passed without a nicotine product?  Does that include the patch or gum?

  • Make it Achievable.  If you are 165 pounds and your goal is to lose 30 pounds, that is an achievable goal.  At the end you would weigh 135 pounds and depending on your height and bone structure that is probably achievable at some point.  However, if you are 6 feet tall and you currently weigh 135 pounds, then a 30 pound weight loss is probably not achievable (or safe!).  When you are writing your goal, make sure it is something that you and your body are capable of.  I don’t mean don’t challenge yourself.  By all means, if becoming a black belt is your goal, go for it.  Just know that there are certain restrictions on how quickly you can test for some of the belts.  To say you want to be a black belt this year if you have just started is not achievable.

  • Make it Realistic.  You’ve determined that it’s physically possible to lose 30 pounds, but to plan on losing it in a month is not realistic.  There will be commercials for detox and weight loss programs that will tell you otherwise, but they are pushing you to rush.  If you read any reputable article or book on weight loss, they will tell you that slow weight loss is healthier.  It means that you are picking up specific tools and habits and that will help you have long-lasting results.  You might see some pounds drop off if you starve yourself or follow some lemon water and hot sauce detox program, but that is not sustainable.  Make your goal realistic.  1 pound a week is realistic.  2 pounds a week could be realistic if you’re working hard.

  • Make it Time-specific.  If you plan on losing 1 pound a week until you have lost 30 pounds, that is 30 weeks.  That is 7.5 months.  If you plan on pushing yourself hard to reach your goal, that is just under 4 months away.  So take today’s date and count out 4 months.  If today is January 24, then 4 months from now is May 24.  

 

  • Finally, how are you going to do it?  Are you going to stop eating dessert, replace soda with water, exercise three times a week, join a karate team?  

 

Now that we have laid out the details we can take all of that information and we rewrite our goal.  

 

Goal before:

“I’m going to lose 30 pounds.”

 

Goal after:

“I am going to lose 30 pounds because that should put me into that size 8 dress that I bought for my friend’s wedding in June and I want to feel sexy and gorgeous.  On May 24, 2016 at 5pm when I step on the scale, it will read 135 pounds or less.  In order to do this I am going to add fruits or vegetables to every meal, limit my alcoholic beverages to one time a week, and do a yoga workout at my favorite yoga studio three times a week.  When I have the chance to walk around the block with my husband I will do that.  When I am having a difficult week I will call my best friend to talk to her about it.  For work I will pack a lunch every day and I will make tea instead of my usual 2pm soda.  I will weigh myself one time a week and write it down in my journal to assess if I am on track.”

 

Go ahead and rewrite your goal on your card or your piece of paper.  Go.  Do it right now.  If you are serious about it, you will write it down.  

 

You are not done yet, there is one more important tip!  And this is really, really important!  Put that piece of paper or that 3×5 card somewhere that you will see it every single day.  Put it on your bathroom mirror or in front of the toilet or in the shower.  Put it on your ceiling above your bed or on your nightstand.  Put it where you can see it and every time you see it, read it.  This will make a major difference.  If you really want to make changes, you will follow this advice.  Don’t be shy about it.  

 

Now that your resolution has been rewritten and passes the SMART goal test, stay posted for my next post that will help you put some life, motivation, and excitement back into it.
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Back to Basics for the New Year

You wander from room to room
hunting for the diamond necklace
that is already around your neck.

by Rumi

 

Every New Year I begin to look forward to all of the exciting things that I am going to challenge myself to do.  In previous years I have quit drinking, done Paleo Whole30 challenges, lost weight, trained for a half-marathon, and various other hard-core, high-intensity challenges.  I generally would find a mountain to hike on the morning of the New Year and look out onto the islands thinking about all that I would conquer in the near future.

This year feels a little different.  I’ve moved into a slower-paced, more introverted town.  I’ve not taken the time to make a lot of connections here.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the yard with my dogs or crafting something in my living room.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, worrying, planning.

This new year I think all I want to do is get back to the basics.  I have been avoiding starting a new life in a new place.  And I’m not saying I’m making a resolution to become a social butterfly in 2016.  I really mean the basics.

I want to get back into meditation when I wake up in the morning.  I am going to finish my meditation bench for myself before 2016, since trying to meditate on the couch in the sunroom in the morning is akin to going from one bed to another.  I fall right asleep.

1210150653I am going to plan meals ahead of time.  I am going to avoid gluteny cookies and crackers and bread because I think they are contributing to my never ending rash that appears and re-appears on my legs.  So, I am going to plan dinners ahead, task Nathan to completing some of them, and take leftovers for lunches.  My health is dependent on it.

I am going to continue to walk with my buddy, Maria on Thursdays and start walking on my own or with Nathan at least 2 other days.  I am not going to hurt myself by trying to run right away.  And I’ve got my jump-rope now, which I love.  I’ve been doing tabatas with a variety of moves intermingles with jump roping.

I am going to visit Asheville and Colorado Springs and make a more researched decision before we move again.

Basically, I’m going to get back to the things that I already know work.  I’m not going to try to lose 30 pounds or eat totally Paleo or join a buddhist temple.  I’m just going to ease back in and take care of myself.

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What are you planning for this new year?

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2016- The Year of Connection

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Missing Hawaii

It is midway through December. The Christmas tree is up, and that combined with the smell of pine and fallen leaves outside the house has me in a nostalgic mood.  It has me thinking about the past year.  God, so much has changed.  This time last year, I lived in Kailua, the most gorgeous place on the planet.  I dare you to tell me different.  I lived a mile away from a beautiful beach.  My best friends lived in walking distance from me.  On a Saturday morning I had a dozen people I could call at the drop of a hat to invite to a last minute hike or walk on the beach.  I knew my neighbors, and I had healthy, active people surrounding me.  I could walk to Crossfit and my work was a mere 15 minutes away.

Why then does it feel so right that I’ve moved to this out of the way place, where we are surrounded by squirrels, deer, bugs and birds?  Where Walmart is the best option for produce?  Where the beach (which in no way compares to Kailua) is a half hour drive away?  Where we are afraid to let our dogs run loose because they might get eaten by alligators or snatched up by large predatory birds?

One major answer is family.  I am missing my best friends like hell, and I am going to have to figure out how to visit soon, but now I feel like I live on the same planet as my family.  When I call them in the morning, it is also morning for them.  I don’t get the news 6 hours later than they do.  I saw my family and Nathan’s family in July.  Then I drove to New York for Thanksgiving.  Twice.  I am going to see

them again over the Christmas break.  I think Nathan said it most eloquently when we spoke of it in the car the other night.  He said, “This last time we drove away from the house, I was sad, because I would miss them, but I wasn’t thinking Is this the last time I am going to see them?”

How shitty is that question?  This is why I moved from Hawaii.  If someone in my family gets sick, or a family member gets married, or a family member has a baby, those things matter to me.  And living in Hawaii, you start to question whether you can afford to go see them.  That’s screwed up.  My mother-in-law had a liver transplant.  My sister-in-law gave her half of her own liver.  That’s freaking amazing.  And when we got married, they couldn’t come to Hawaii, because traveling when you’ve gotten a liver transplant is pretty freaking difficult, especially at first.  That sucked.  Big time.

Living so close feels amazing.  I feel like I am getting to know them again.  And it’s not like I didn’t talk to my siblings or my parents.  We kept and still do keep up a pretty good conversation via facebook

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Seeing Family is Priceless

and email and I was able to have Skype conversations with them on most of the holidays over the years.

Seeing Family Is Priceless
Seeing Family Is Priceless

But, let’s be honest.  It’s not the same.  It’s not the same as trying to sleep on the top bunk at your parents’ house when your oldest sister is sleeping on the bottom bunk and you’ve got years of catching up to do.  It’s not the same as being able to clear your crap out of your parents’ house for them.  It’s not the same as having a cup of coffee with them across the island in the kitchen or building a bonfire or playing Pandemic or talking about the Dragonriders of Pern books or simply being in their presence.  It’s not the same as spending time with your nieces and nephews and the dogs.  And it’s definitely not the same as being able to give them a hug.

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Seeing Family is Priceless

I feel like I missed a lot over the years, but at the same time, I grew up in Hawaii.  I became a big girl there.  I learned how to be a kind, loving, healthy, individual.  I learned how to love myself and I found friends there that became my family.
So how, in 2016 do I find what I had in Hawaii (not the beaches, but the friends and the lifestyle) and stay close to my family?  How do I find that connection somewhere close enough to New York?

I haven’t found the answer yet.  My husband and I are looking for employment possibly near Asheville, NC or in Colorado.  I need to find a group of people who are interested in health and wellness like I am.  We need to find a place that doesn’t have an undercurrent of discrimination.  And I need a place to be able to hike and work out, but this place can’t cost as much as Hawaii did.  I refuse to be a slave to the price of a plane ticket home.
Any ideas?  Comment below!  Where do you think the best place to live is?

 

Missing my Hawaii Family
Missing my Hawaii Family

Podcast 2- Our $10,000 Dog

Nathan and I had such an awesome day today!  The weather in NC is unseasonable warm, so we took advantage by taking the dogs to Flanner’s Beach on the Neuse River.  Check out the pics below and take a few minutes to listen to our second podcast!

Anna’s Blog: Feeding Our Inner Traveler

Pet Insurance: 24 PetWatch

Neuse River Pics:

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Beautiful Day in NC!

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