Time Management

4 Steps to Health

A Productive Roadmap to Health

Have you ever felt like you don’t have time to pay attention to your health?!

Spoiler alert: You have plenty of time to be healthy and make the choice to maintain your wellness in the longterm.

The #1 response clients provide as their challenge to getting healthy is simply this concept of “time.” Check out the video to see what I have to say about it and learn how you can start taking control of your health right now.

Mental Health

Stress: Good or Bad for You?

 

Stress.

That word alone can make you cringe. It’s got all this bad juju and negative emotions surrounding it that you haven’t wanted anything to do with it. As I’m currently taking a Women’s Health class, we were instructed to “assess” our stress levels. Getting on to WebMD (of course) to take a quick survey on how well I handle my stress levels made me realize some good and bad facts about stress. In my life and based on the results of the assessment, I definitely could stand to handle my stress a little better – “Stress Management: Could Be Better” to be specific. Comparatively, my life is pretty ‘cushy’ as they say. As a general overview, I live in a first world country with all of my rights, access to education and healthcare in a beautiful home, nice neighborhood and quaint city. My family is incredibly supportive of me and I get to see them all the time. Engaged, my fiance is incredibly helpful around the house and provides for our family which includes our two large dogs. My work can be a little stressful, but not because anyone’s life is depending on me and rather because I am spread thin between locations. Teaching in the fitness industry usually means you have multiple places of work and having to divide your attention between them can weigh on your time and energy. In addition, I also teach a multitude of different styles of fitness which means I am prepping for different programs while constantly shifting gears throughout the day. Building a business is probably one of my main stressors because it is always in the back of my mind. Working full time and going back to school is stressful. Maintaining some semblance of a healthy lifestyle while being pulled all over the place and still taking care of my life’s responsibilities can be trying at times. Frankly, I have everything I could ever want and my life is incredibly abundant. (Yes, I realize this.) The stressors I deal with are what comes along with being productive, forward-thinking and motivated to always be growing in the ways I see fit. This kind of stress I would deem more as eustress – the beneficial kind. All these things I consider to be managed well enough, but the biggest burden of all is typically financial stress. This post is not to blab on about the hardships of shiftings careers and going back to school; but acknowledging the emotional repercussions, tensions in my relationships and insecurities in my life created by these changes are an important part of understanding my own difficulties with stress. I know that better times are ahead as I work to grow this business, however, it all takes time. Managing my financial stress admittedly can be the most challenging. Based on my results, WebMD explained: You’re taking healthy steps to manage your stress. And it’s helping. Your stress doesn’t seem to be getting to you. Everyone has stress. It’s part of life. And although people usually think stress is bad, it can be good for you. It gives you energy and sharpens your senses to help you power through. The key is how you deal with your stress. You can’t be in an amped-up state all the time. It takes a toll on your mental and physical health. This makes sense to me and is what I have begun to learn about stress. Simply put, not all stress is bad. (Hurray!) Stress is not inherently bad for your health and as long as I continue to mitigate my stress response appropriately I should stay relatively healthy. The TED Talk I’ve shared below is a look at the positives of stress. About a year ago I was introduced to the book “The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal and it significantly shifted the way I’ve come to understand or even speak about stress. Not surprisingly based on my belief of the mind’s power – McGonigal shares how the way we THINK about stress can be more impactful than our physiological response to stress itself. What?! Whoa. Take a moment to watch her presentation and see how stress can be a positive thing in your life based on our perceptions. As for handling my own stress, I find the following helpful:
  • Streamlining Schedule: By planning ahead and scheduling out meals or breaks throughout the day I am better able to handle my workload.
  • Self-Care: By taking time off when necessary blocking out time for the things in my life that satisfy my restoration.
  • Focus on the Moment: By concentrating on the task I am able to give my attention to the present moment. Whether it is a meal with my partner or teaching or school work, being able to provide my undivided attention to the activity eases my mind, so I am not worried about what is coming up next. Instead, appreciating and being wrapped up in the here and now.
  • Mindfulness: When I am feeling a little more stressed, I make time for meditation or revisiting my yoga practice. Being able to focus on breath and/or partnered with movement can calm the mind and nervous system.
  • Physical Activity: When I tend to be emotionally stunted or grasping at getting a handle on my stressful emotions, some good old fashioned strength training usually does the trick. Exercise releases serotonin and feel-good chemicals that get improves your attitude and shifts your perspective to one of greater positivity.
  • Planning and PreparationWhen it comes to financial stress, my most difficult problem, I believe having a plan will help. As I look at our expenditures, chart out budgeting and strategically plan ahead, it eases some stress knowing that there is a solution to the problem. Even planning for the week or day ahead of time can help me better manage my time to ward off stress.
  • Gratitude: When I get wrapped up in all the difficulties of the stress of life, sometimes simple mental reminders of how lucky I am are the cure. Reminding myself of all the things in my life for which I am grateful and lucky to have can reground me. Either creating a specific list or mindfully sending thanks for these things in my thoughts can ease some of my heightened emotions.
Each of these eases my anxiety, balancing out my emotional state and making me feel more optimistic about my state of life. All in all, I live a relatively stress-free life and typically cause any tensions on my own by dwelling on the difficulty instead of taking action. By continuing to keep pace with staying ahead of the game and by doing instead of fretting, I tend to work my way around stress. How do you view stress and in what ways do you find relief?  
Credit to TED Global 2013: https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend#t-3619
Behavior

6 Quick Fit Tips for the Busy Woman

Ever feel like you’re jamming through the day and not able to get anything in for your wellness?!

Well… don’t we all.

Sometimes it’s not feasible to take over an hour for the workout class, or at times we can’t even stop to each lunch we’re powering from one place to the next. For my busy, hardworking ladies out there, here are some QUICK and helpful tips to incorporate into your go-getter lifestyle. <3

Tip #1: Exercise at Your Desk

No matter your situation, we have opportunities to move our bodies at work:

  1. Seated Squat Lifts: Sink weight into your heels & lift your bottom off your chair about an inch. Sit back down. Keep your weight back & your stomach pulling towards your spine. 8-10 Reps
  2. Isometric Prayer: Place your palms in front of your heart in a prayer position & press them in towards each other for about 5 seconds, then relax. 10-12 Reps
  3. Standing Leg Lifts: Keep a soft bend in your standing leg, reach your lifted leg straight behind you. Tuck the hips & engage the glutes as you lift the leg. 8-12 Reps on each side
  4. Second Plie Squats: Bring heels outside of hips in a wide second position & point toes out. Press your heels into the floor as you bend & straighten your legs. 10-15 Reps

Tip #2: Eat Breakfast

This is an oldie, but goodie. In our busy lives we don’t take the time to eat breakfast. Or sometimes we don’t eat at all till we’re starved, so we grab the first, easiest item in a fast-food world. Trust me on this – eat something savory to satisfy your appetite in the morning. It’ll get you started in the best way possible. Make a smoothie with your favorite nut butter in advance or pack your paleo granola, homemade almond milk with a banana.

Tip #3: Phone Dance Moves

Each time you pick up your phone, dedicate a particular dance move for the day. That way, when you pick up you don’t even have to think about it – you just do it. It can be something as simple as a shoulder wiggle, or something more dramatic like the hustle. Get creative & have fun!

Tip #4: Conscious Eating

Be aware & present when you can actually take the time to eat. You can typically sit down & finish a meal in 10-15 minutes thoughtfully. That’s not that much time to take away from your “to do” list & all of your distractions. Put your phone on silent, don’t sit at your desk, don’t read, don’t do anything but eat. And enjoy!

Tip #5: Stretch During Breaks

When you take a break throughout the day – & you certainly should be taking breaks – stretch. On your way to the bathroom, while waiting for a client or in your chair. If you’re known for working the whole day through without coming up for air, then set a timer on your phone to go off every 45 minutes. Even if it’s just to lift your arms up & reach left then right. Simple.

Tip #6: 5 Minutes of Compliments

Dedicate five minutes of your day to compliments. You can say them in your head, write them down or say them out loud. Co-workers, friends, your spouse, children, & especially about you. Think of nice things to say about your body, personality or strengths. Only positive things!

 

Tag @her.healthy.habits on Instagram to keep me in the loop on busting those dance moves!!!

xo Michelle Pualani

Nutrition

Cheat Days: Food Freedom or Binge Eating?

 

What is a “cheat day” in the health, fitness and nutrition realm?

Cheat Day: a day you take off during the week to consume the types of calories that you’ve been avoiding through the rest of your healthy diet. This will typically occur on a weekend as a reward for staying on point Monday through Friday. What’s the purpose? To enjoy a mostly regimented diet and fitness routine, then eat anything your heart desires on a scheduled day.

This approach is meant to provide balance and allow you the enjoyment of life’s hedonistic pleasures while still maintaining a predominantly healthy nutrition program. I’ve never been the biggest fan of cheat days, but Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of chiropractic, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist has definitely made me see things a little differently. Below are some points in favor of and against cheat days – the most important point being that everyone is different and each person’s diet will have to reflect their own relationship with food.

In the article and video found on his website www.draxe.com he, along with writer Kissairis Munoz, shed light on the science and statistical data behind cheat days as we know them.

First of all, pros Dr. Axe provides behind cheat days:

  • Helps in sticking to goals in the long-term
  • Boosts metabolism, avoiding plateau from the same consistent diet
  • Satisfies cravings, to allow for better choices at a given time during the week

Secondly, the cons provided by Dr. Axe’s team:

  • Gorging or overeating because it’s allowed
  • Making food an enemy and developing an unhealthy relationship
  • We’re allowing ourselves a cheat day when we aren’t really that healthy otherwise

One of the problems associated with cheat days from my perspective is viewing our standard, normal diet (the one eaten throughout the week) in a place of lack. A lot of people who have been restricting themselves too heavily only over-consume when they allow this cheating mentality into one day or meal. [It’s like allowing for a Thanksgiving meal every week.] It brings to focus to those things that can’t be eaten more than celebrating all those wonderful foods we can enjoy on a healthful diet. It further puts food into two categories: good versus bad.

By having days in which we’re committing adultery and “cheating” on our typical diets automatically labels foods we feel good about eating and foods we instinctively feel bad about eating. Dr. Axe and company suggest thinking of these as “treat” or “vacation” meals or days by contrast. Even still, by dividing foods up into this camp we’re signaling to our bodies that this green food is healthful, nutritious, and going to, therefore, be well-received; and that cake, cookies, french toast or milkshakes are bad. However, we’re eating them anyway and subconsciously feeding our bodies negative information about the food it’s about to consume.

What can that mean for the body?!

When we experience a sense of guilt or stress with our food, we physiologically experience a heightened nervous system, releasing stress hormones that encourage a desire for unhealthy foods. This can lead to overeating or binging on cheat day items. Ask yourself: do I tend to overconsume calories of certain types of foods during a cheat meal or over the entire cheat day that I shouldn’t?

We tend to binge on items we’ve been purposefully keeping out of our diets, because psychologically that item is prohibited, off limits or taboo. Dr. Axe warns against allowing yourself to binge eat on cheat days and rather enjoy the whole foods-based items that are homemade or responsibly sourced. However, not many people are following those high standards. He relates that this type of dieting is seen used by professional athletes, bodybuilders or models, all those strictly concerned with their bodies for performance or aesthetics above and beyond healthy lifestyle choices for most people. The dialogue we have with our bodies about food is the basis of those relationships and can be just as important as the actual nutritional value of the food being consumed.

A significant concern I have with Cheat Days is the idea of punishment that goes along with them. Based on what took place during your cheat day, what I see happening frequently in language and by fitness professionals is punishing oneself following the day off. That may mean a really grueling workout or restricting calories to “make up” for the delicious food you’ve enjoyed, signaling again that you are bad, your body is bad and it must pay as you exact revenge on it. Dr. Axe also warns against making food the enemy, which this idea of punishment seems to be when we must rectify our wrongs through exercise.

All in all, cheat days are not for everyone. Studies show that they may be positive for some in reaching long-term goals and weight loss overall. However, keep in mind each of us is different and determine why you are motivated to incorporate a cheat day. Read the full article by Dr. Axe’s Team and watch the video for more insight.

Behavior

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Why We Do What We Do in Business & Life

Quotes & Anecdotes I Find Useful

The impact of this book remains with my thoughts most days of the week. In the past few years, as I have addressed my own habits in building a healthy lifestyle, his message guides my direction. Listening to this audiobook for the first time, and then a subsequent two times in a row while it was loaned to me through our local library, I took his teachings to heart. The words Charles uses to convey his understanding of the neurology behind habit formation and the subsequent expression of those habits in our lives was clear, meaningful, and changed the way I saw the world. The examples he uses to explain habit formation and common unhealthy habits are obviously relatable, and I love the matter of fact tone in the book. The historical perspective he brings into play with business and marketing sheds light on other applicable ways of understanding your own habit formation as well as those of the general populace. This plays an important role in developing your own successful path in a career or health discovery.

Information found in this book regarding habit formation, along with various other articles, are the foundation for aspects of the Be Better Empowerment Course. These concepts are the meat and potatoes behind all the effort you will put into adjusting your patterns to build the life you so desire within and beyond the course. What follows are various quotes, summaries, and poignant discussion points on habit formation in neurology. All quotes are found throughout the text of discussion.

“Habits aren’t destiny… they can be ignored, changed, or replaced.”

This sentiment is one I want you to understand and ingrain into your frame of reference now. The habits you currently hold dear, practice every day and feel you are doomed to keep repeating until your last breath are really not the end all. Your habits are adjustable. They have changed, they will change, they should change, and you are ultimately in control of those developments over time. It’s your choice whether to adhere to the familiar in all that you know or to catapult yourself into a world of what’s different, new and possibly better for your future.

“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage.”

From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that we would create habits throughout our life. When we wake up in the morning, we shouldn’t have to newly re-experience getting out of bed, showering, brushing our teeth, making coffee, or waking up the kids every day. We’d take hours to relearn each of these activities, and spend more time than needed on what to do next. In order to survive in this world, we’ve got to train our minds to perform various tasks and activities without all the mental effort of performing the activity initially. As we move through life, we create these habits as a way of deferring our decision-making faculties for more important topics of consideration – such as whether to get sushi or sandwiches for lunch. Or maybe whether to quit your job and start freelancing. Some of these habits are inconsequential, like brushing your teeth. But some are more impactful, such as turning on the television first thing when you get home or reaching for a cookie as a mid afternoon snack (a great experimental story in the book). Are you aware of the habits you currently have guiding you through your own day?

“… the brain stops participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically.”

These habits we’ve developed happen without recognition, without acknowledgement. They take over our physical bodies as we move right through them without thinking twice. In the Be Better Empowerment program, we determine how we’re going to interrupt these patterns and discuss these tactics. You have to fight to make these changes at first, but over time they become more natural as your body becomes accustomed to its new routine.

“Your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, so it’s easy to fall back into the old habits, because they’re always in the pathways of your brain. This explains why it’s so hard to create exercise habits, for instance, or change what we eat. Once we develop a routine of sitting on the couch, rather than running, or snacking whenever we pass a doughnut box, those patterns always remain inside our heads. By the same rule, though, if we learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors- if we take control of the habit loop – we can force those bad tendencies into the background.”

Habits are not easy to adjust, nor are they sexy to try and change. They’re the nitty gritty or building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, and they’re downright no fun to address. But if we’re going to see success in building a path to health, then we’ve got to do the work. It’s easy to stay in a routine. It’s why we have so many dissatisfied workers staying at jobs, because it’s stable or because it “pays the bills.” These people aren’t particularly happy, but they’re doing okay. They’re living the status quo. Your habits are the status quo. Your habits are what may be holding you back from living the life you ultimately desire. They’re the daily must-dos and the same old same old you’ve been doing for years. They’re the daily tasks that keep you from getting out and making a difference. They’re what’s weighing you down and keeping you in a rut. Want to get out of that rut? Want to move above and beyond the ‘okay’ mentality? Then you must address your habits in a clear, definitive way.

“Genuine change requires work and self-understanding of the cravings driving behaviors. Changing any habit requires determination.”

You have to put in the work. It’s not difficult to break down why you do what you do, but it does take time. No one is going to do it for you. If you have any determination or intention to change, then you must put in the effort to do so. You’ve got to commit the time and let your discovery become a new habit. Fortunately, the Be Better Empowerment course guides you through this process, so you aren’t alone.

“The evidence is clear: If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group. Belief is essential, and it grows out of a communal experience, even if that community is only as large as two people.”

By coming together as a community, you are able to rely on the support of your fellow members to drive you in the right direction. Belief in yourself isn’t always easy. When you have others that hold you accountable and believe in your ability to change, you are more likely to succeed in reaching your goals. When you celebrate with friends, your happiness is also exponentially more so than celebrating your own success by yourself. Find a group, build a team, and forge ahead with like-minded people.

“No matter how strong our willpower, we’re guaranteed to fall back into our old ways once in awhile. But if we plan for those relapses – if we take steps to make sure those slips don’t become habit – it’s easier to get back on track.”

An important part of your work to change habits is planning for failures and challenges. A plan of recourse in action and knowing it’s okay to slip up is important in heading into change. Know that everyone has missteps and makes mistakes. You are no different. I am no different. We all make choices we’re not happy about later on, and we all have habits in place that are not healthy. In order to overcome these setbacks, we can plan accordingly; however we must not berate ourselves for these missteps. These “relapses” are a natural part of life and as a human, you are expected to encounter these obstacles in life. Instead of getting caught up in them, allow yourself the mistake and move on. Pick yourself back up, and don’t allow yourself the negative self-talk of chastising your slip up. You can do it.

Food Related Discussion
“Consider fast food, for instance. It makes sense – when the kids are starving and you’re driving home after a long day – to stop, just this once, at McDonald’s or Burger King. The meals are inexpensive. It tastes so good. After all, one dose of processed meat, salty fries, and sugary soda poses a relatively small health risk, right? It’s not like you do it all the time.”

Unfortunately that “once in a while” concept doesn’t exactly work, and large fast food corporations are banking on that. Notice how easy they are, how accessible, how simple the menus are and how downright addictive the foods can be. This is not by coincidence. They know that you are tired, that you’re busy and that you want the easiest solution to your problem. They’ve laid everything out for you to fall into a habit with little to no obstacle – no excuse you can provide to avoid these tendencies. So don’t start in the first place. And if you already have, let’s work to shift this go-to meal. You have the power to notice these habits and change them.

“Habits emerge without our permission. Studies indicate that families usually don’t intend to eat fast food on a regular basis. What happens is that once a month pattern slowly becomes once a week, and then twice a week – as the cues and rewards create a habit – until the kids are consuming an unhealthy amount of hamburgers and fries. When researchers at the University of North Texas and Yale tried to understand why families gradually increased their fast food consumption, they found a series of cues and rewards that most customers never knew were influencing their behaviors. They discovered the habit loop.”

You may not even be realizing what you’re doing while you’re doing it. It’s easy to slip into these patterns without even noticing and until you take the time to step back, they’ll continue to work their habitual routine. Take the time to pause, ask yourself what the reality is of your eating habits. Maybe it’s not fast food, but maybe you’re reaching for dessert after every meal as a “sweet treat.” Maybe you have a processed grain with every meal. Did you know how much you’ve actually been consuming, or has it snuck up on you? Realization and acknowledgement is the first step in understanding what is taking place in reality. Only then can you begin to address changing anything.

“Want to craft a new eating habit? When researchers affiliated with more than six thousand people who have lost more than thirty pounds – looked at the habits of successful dieters, they found that 78 percent of them ate breakfast every morning, a meal cued by a time of day. But most of the successful dieters also envisioned a specific reward for sticking with their diet – a bikini they wanted to wear or the sense of price they felt when they stepped on the scale each day – something they chose carefully and really wanted. They focused on craving for that reward when temptations arose, cultivated the craving into a mild obsession. And their cravings for that reward, researchers found, crowded out the temptation to drop the diet. The craving drove the habit loop.”

What’s the takeaway here? Well, yes – eat breakfast. Start your day nourished with something savory, and you’re more likely to choose healthy options throughout the day maintaining a healthy, stable blood sugar. But also, set into mind what it is you really want out of life, and begin to integrate that into your own habit loop as your reward. Do you have a specific goal that you’re looking to reach by switching up your eating habits? Maybe not even weight loss, but mental clarity or energy maintenance through the afternoon. Maybe your goal is to avoid developing Type II Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Atherosclerosis, Osteoporosis, or many other lifestyle-related illnesses. Let these goals become your driving factor as you let go of your physiological cravings.

“If you want to lose weight, study your habits to determine why you really leave your desk for a snack each day, and then find someone else to take a walk with you, to gossip with at their desk rather than in the cafeteria, a group that tracks weight-loss goals together, or in someone who also wants to keep a stock of apples, rather than chips nearby.”

Determine your why. Why are you initiating that habit in the first place? We have to do the research in order to determine your cue, because it’s simply not going to be the same as anyone else’s. It’s specific to you, and we can work together to determine how to shift that habit using your daily routines as an experiment.

Exercise Related Discussion
“Studies of people who have successfully started new exercise routines, for instance, show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as running as soon as they get home from work, and a clear reward, such as a beer or an evening of guilt-free television. Research on dieting says creating new food habits requires a predetermined cue – such as planning menus in advance – and simple rewards for dieters when they stick to their intentions.”

Planning ahead will increase your chances of success when starting a new routine of any kind. Knowing when you’re going to work out, laying out the clothes in advance and having the alarm set in your phone. Make it impossible to avoid and you will make it happen. You will consistently feel better for it every time. If you don’t feel like it, start exercising telling yourself you’ll do five minutes, and stop if you want. Chances are you aren’t going to want to stop, because getting started is more than half the battle. Start and you will continue. Exercising releases chemicals in the brain that literally make you feel better and can provide a sense of accomplishment. You will learn to crave and expect that physiological reward over time.

“Anyone can use this basic formula to create habits of her or his own. Want to exercise more? Choose a cue, such as going to the gym as soon as you wake up, and a reward, such as a smoothie after each workout. Then think about that smoothie, or about the endorphin rush you’ll feel. Allow yourself to anticipate the reward. Eventually, that craving will make it easier to push through the gym doors every day.”

Make your rewards healthy in nature, so they will still give you that sense of accomplishment or chemical enjoyment that your body is craving. Keep at it, and you can develop a healthy lifestyle routine of your own.

Duhigg’s book packs a powerful message about the reality of healthy habits, and it is a recommended read if you’re able to pick it up. Consider for yourself what it takes to shift your habits. You’ve already begun by thinking about your day-to-day. That’s the first step. Now with a little attention to detail and some experimentation, you will be able to make the shifts in your life you desire, rebuilding pathways in your brain and rewiring your life to fit your desires.

Meditation

Meditation & Visualization: The How & Why

“Where our thoughts dwell, so becomes our reality. Choose wisely!”

Nanette Mathews

They say thoughts become things.

Meditation and visualization are hot topics right now in the health scene. You can find them in our growing yoga trend, touted in practices and principles of successful people’s lives and even used in health centers, schools or for mental wellness in various clinics. These historical concepts aren’t on the rise for no reason. As we move further into our technological advances, using our devices and staring into screens for most of the day (now included) we lose our present awareness of the moment. We lose touch with the here and the now. We lack connection and a true understanding of what it means to be present. With yourself, with your food, with your physical activity or with the people in your life. What does this mean for your life?

It means that you miss out on the in-depth passion there is to be found. It means that you cease to acknowledge the little things. It may mean that your relationships suffer, your career doesn’t progress as rapidly or confidently as you’d like, or that you’re stuck in what we accept as the “status quo” of life. When you wake up every morning and undergo the same rushed routine of what you call your day-to-day. When you’re moving quickly through food, life, conversation, relationships, and your downtime. By taking a step back from the chaos, turning inward, reflecting on where you are in your life and on your path gives your self a shot at releasing a proverbial sigh of relief.

Through this chaos, your mind is a reflection of your life. How your thoughts move, the convoluted nature of your list of to-dos, and the way you react to your encounters are a testament to this lifestyle. Maybe you feel a multitude of these various emotions throughout the day: anxiety, depression, malaise, laziness, distractedness, misery, drudgery, negativity… These are not the human condition when you make an active effort to reflect on your world. You can move through your day with confidence, with positivity, with deep appreciation for each moment and with a viewpoint on the world that turns each second, turning each physical piece of reality into something beautiful, something to be praised.

What would you do with this newfound power to shift your mindset into one of awe in greeting each new moment in time?

Meditation: /ˌmedəˈtāSH(ə)n/

“The action or practice of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.”

To expand upon that… From a simplistic perspective, meditation can be used synonymously with mindfulness. Meditation is the practice of bringing awareness to the present moment with a varied list of topics you have the option of focusing upon. There are many different types of meditation, but the resounding idea is to take a break from your everyday busy path to focus in on the here and now. Bringing awareness to this particular space and time in which you sit, stand or lay – whether that is through the breath, scanning the body or by concentrating on words of a particular persuasion.

Visualization: /ˌviZH(o͞o)ələˈzāSH(ə)n/

“The process of creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen or feel in reality.”

To expand upon that… Visualization is seeing in your mind’s eye something you want to take place. Whether that be a successful sports win, an intimate date, a big promotion, or living your healthiest life in a day. To visualize something is to see it playing out in your mind using your own brain power. By visualizing, it is said that we are able to bring thoughts into physical reality as they actualize. This may not be in the literal sense of imagining something fantastical to have an encounter that may be considered outside of possibilities within this worldly realm. However, visualization can be used to bring universal intention into play by allowing opportunities you imagine to come to fruition.

They say thoughts become words, words become actions…

So like… what types of meditation are there?! When meditating, you can…

  • Empty your mind of thought.
  • Hold a particular mantra, a sentence or a single word in your mind.
  • Be prompted to send energy externally to others or to your space.
  • Turn inward to reflect on yourself without passing judgment.
  • Bring awareness to your deepest desires or get clarity on a decision you have to make.
  • Increase physical awareness with body scans.

Meditation and its practice can take many different forms. My personal, most frequently practiced form of meditation is Transcendental Meditation, which would be considered a mantra meditation. The second would be Yoga Nidra, a practice used typically at night to enjoy restful sleep as a relaxing voice speaks through the body parts. Wrapping up the yoga classes I instruct, I usually finish with a simple Yoga Nidra to get bodies comfortably into a state of rest for our final Savasana, or corpse pose.

And uh, what about visualization!?! When visualizing, you can…

  • View from the first person perspective, seeing through your eyes.
  • View from the third person perspective, seeing from a camera’s perspective into the scene.
  • Bring to mind an event or happening that you would like to see come to fruition.
  • Imagine yourself in a location or a state of being that you desire.
  • Concentrate on successful or prosperous intentions with various phrases.

When practicing visualization techniques, think about what you want instead of what you don’t. Bringing things into your life in a positive way will attract the positive. When you focus with passion you are able to put emotionally charged energy into what you’re doing, and you’ll be more dedicated to seeing that through to accomplishment. You’ll be energetically attached to the outcome, increasing the chances of its occurrence and open to opportunities that may not have always appeared beforehand.

How do you implement meditation and visualization practices into your real life?!

  1. Be consistent: Practice whenever you can. Make a schedule for it. Try for daily. Consistency breeds habits; habits formulate your life. Just like anything else, we need regular and consistent practice to get better. Just like we can’t pick up a guitar and play a full song from the get go, we won’t be great controlling our minds right off the bat either. It takes practice, time and energy.
  2. Keep it simple: Meditation and visualization DON’T have to be complex or complicated. They can be simple without a huge time commitment. Practice for short lengths in the beginning with five or so minutes of concentration. Being something you can practice anywhere, eventually you will be able to work it into a normal day without much effort.
  3. Practice with other tasks: Meditation and visualization can both be practiced while doing other mundane tasks throughout your day. Try focusing just on the breath as you wash the dishes. Repeat a mantra meditation while house cleaning. Visualize how you want the rest of your day to go while walking the dog in the morning. Close your eyes and bring attention to different parts of the body while waiting for appointments.

There seems to be much ado about meditation around the internet these days. And although it’s integrated heavily into our trendy yoga scene, it’s a worthwhile exploration for everyone in our society today wrapped up in the business we call life. These mindfulness and mental practices can increase feelings of happiness and positivity. They elicit calmer dispositions and reduce anxiety. They’re related to properly managed stress and better productivity. The list goes on with benefits for your physical health, your emotional wellness, and even your relationships . Give it a try and let me know how you do.

“Self-talk deeply impacts your attitude, decisions and actions hence your success, happiness and self-esteem.”

― Maddy Malhotra

Body Love

28 Years Old & I Just Learned to Chew

This year, I turned 28 years of age and just learned how to chew my food.

What?!

Well… let me explain. Do you ever sit down to a meal and wolf the entire thing down in the hole you call your mouth? And then… take a few moments to wonder – where did all that food just go, oh well, what’s next on the agenda?

Only recently did I start taking the time to chew my food. Now, this may not seem like a novel concept to you. However, to me it’s been nothing short of life-changing. What it has done bleeds perspective into the rest of my world. Let me reflect… Being able to take the time, sit down to a full meal and focus solely on my food has brought out an interesting gamut of changes in my life and in my health. Not only has my meal time extended, but the nourishment I feel following is a complete shift.

This may seem like a really easy concept to most people and maybe you’re already doing it – but for me, I never really got to that point of adulthood. I’ve always been health-oriented and always loved food. Even really thought I enjoyed eating food, but for some reason I had this pressing sense of urgency. I always joked that I died of starvation in a previous life because of this need to consume my food quickly. It was like I couldn’t eat fast enough, and I just wanted to get everything down as quickly as possible – like it was a race. Doing so, I never really got to thoroughly appreciate my food. Now when I eat, food has become a sacred practice and eating is a cherished time I take for myself. It’s a time that I value sharing with family and friends.

In the name of science, chewing or mastication, is the first step in the digestive process. Enzymes are released in your saliva that begin breaking down food particles for digestion. Some important reasons your food should be broken down before swallowing are to avoid bacterial overgrowth in the gut, to assist in speed of food movement through your system, and to signal to your body that it’s time to digest. Simply by chewing, we send neurological messages to our organs that food is on the way and exclaim “hey – get ready!!!”

Here are some of the perks I’ve discovered from taking time to chew:

  • Feeling fuller faster: As you chew, your body begins to register you’re consuming food. As you may have heard, it takes longer for your stomach to signal that you’ve had enough to eat. Chewing more diligently, I’ve noticed a spike in my satiety quicker during the meal. Previously, I’ve felt like I can’t get enough food even when consuming around 2500 cal a day diet, I wasn’t feeling satisfied. Being able to chew each and every bite has given me a sense of fullness and satisfaction that I didn’t have before.
  • Not eating as much: Even though my calorie count is still high throughout the day, I’m now in a place where I can reduce the size of the meals. Without being distracted, I am consciously aware of how much I consume and able to have appropriate portion sizes dialed in.
  • Established sense of calm: Being able to chew each bite fully before moving onto the next has given me a new sense of appreciation for time, mental wellness and for my ability to find a sense of calm or peace in everything that I do. I feel this task has radiated into the rest of my life and has enabled me to take each moment with that same calm, that same appreciation and amount of time. No rush, no sense of urgency – simple enjoyment.
  • Improved digestion: From a health perspective, I’ve noticed my digestion has become more smooth. Allowing your body to prepare fully for the food that is to come, it signals all of the chemical responses and physiological functions that need to take place, getting primed for action.
  • More energy throughout the day: Masticating is the first form of digestion in your system. The better you masticate the better your body is at using less energy when digesting and processing your food. One of the major uses of energy is zapped by digestion, taking up 6-11% of your calories available for burning. Freeing up this energy allows your cells to direct power toward other things, such as repairing the body, healthy hormone function and building muscle tissue. What could you do with more energy throughout your day? Keep moving through that afternoon slump? Maintain sharp attention and focus all day? Lift your spirits up in the afternoon?
  • Reduces overeating: As I’ve been able to slow this process down, I don’t end up bloated, too full and having stuffed myself to the brim. Now, I just don’t have the chance. Your body becomes more aware of the food you’re taking in and will signal to put down that fork sooner than you would have previously. As you tap into how your body is responding to food and not just – oh, all that dessert looks delicious nom nom nom – you have the control to decide when you stop as opposed to mindlessly continuing to eat.

So I don’t know about you, and maybe you are 28 and have been chewing your food like your mother told you to your whole life. I commend you, because it’s not that easy. Most of the time we consume our meals on the go – at a restaurant where we’re on a timeframe or the restaurant is pushing us through a rushed meal. You’re eating at your desk, while you’re watching television and when you’re on your phone. Whatever the case may be, we do not take the time with our food that we should.

How to take more time out to chew:

  1. Prepare your meal if possible. The interaction you have with your food will start to prepare you for its full enjoyment. Being a part of the process, knowing where your ingredients are coming from and creating the meal as if it’s a sacred practice will bring you closer to your food, insisting you slow down.
  2. Sit in a comfortable, peaceful location. When I eat now, I dedicate the time to sit in a supportive way and in a peaceful location. Ideally this takes me outside, but if you don’t have that access then find a quiet spot away from your desk or work space. Some place that gives you time for your food only.
  3. Get rid of screens or distractions. Don’t have a phone nearby, and focus on each and every bite as you take it. Set your work down and even set your book down. Allow yourself the chance to savor the flavor, the nutrition provided and take your time enjoying each bite with focus.
  4. View your food as nourishment, not as a commodity. The viewpoint you bring to the table will quite literally change how your food is assimilated in your body and your experience. If you consider your meal to be just another “to do” on the list today, or something you scarf down for simple sustenance, you’re selling yourself short. Your body is primed for the correct digestion and accomodation of the nutrients it needs to thrive if you just let it do its natural thing. When you mentally don’t take the time to register the food you’re ingesting, your body won’t either.

To chew or not to chew? That is the proverbial question. Chew. As much as you can. As slowly as you can. With as much focus and dedication you apply to transitions in your yoga practice. Chew for digestion, chew for mental clarity, and chew for longevity of the body. You will not regret it.

xo Michelle Pualani

Body Love

Loving Your Body Inch by Inch Starting Today

It’s been some time since I began this practice and I find it unbelievable how it impacts your mind in relation to loving your body. I’m going to share my shower routine with you in hopes that you pick up something similar. The reason I’m sharing this with you is that we often distance ourselves mentally from the physicality of our bodies and our shapes. Like the credit card bills we don’t like to acknowledge, we tend to put the recognition of our shapely features out of our minds, so we don’t have to deal with how our bellies bulge, our upper arms wiggle and the stretch marks we’ve had for years. If I don’t see it, it’s not there, right?

Well I’d like to take you through how I acknowledge the flaws and beautiful curves of my frame each and every day. How this process has made me feel gorgeous in my own skin and how you can too.

This is my shower routine:

  • In the shower, I use a hand scrubby – one that fits like a glove – to gently scrub small circles all over my body with a tea-tree oil based body wash.
  • After the shower, I towel lightly and then dry brush my whole body. Depending on what you need at the time, dry brushing can accomplish different benefits in the body – some of which I’ve listed below. But the important point here is to take your time. Spend care going over each part of your beautiful body.
  • Following dry brushing, use your favorite body oil – mine is organic coconut. And massage in small circles all over that sweet sweet bod. While you massage, look at every inch of your body. Pay careful attention to stretch marks, scars and any other admonished feature you feel you have.

While you do this, be mindful of the thoughts streaming through your head. Everything running through that mind should be positive. At least that’s our goal. When we first get started, it’s easy to start thinking too much about how imperfect this body is or how we wish we didn’t have stretch marks. But the more you practice, the more you’ll be able to find positive thoughts.

Thoughts to start with:

  • Thank you feet, you carry me around all day and without you I’d be nowhere. Literally.
  • Oh calves, you are strong as can be – thanks for always lifting me up.
  • Dang, these thighs are killer. Oh hello cellulite. I know why you’re here, but you may not always be, so don’t get used to hanging around.
  • Now, this booty of mine is BEAUTIFUL. You get the brunt of all my weight as I sit throughout the day. A little lift, a soft scrub and I appreciate you booty. **An aside – Butts are just incredible and love on them as much as you can.**
  • Belly – I will nurture you and massage you, and boy am I thankful you hold in all my most important parts.
  • Breasts! Yay boobies. You are a huge expression of my womanhood and I thank you for representing me so well.
  • Arms, my extension, and contact with the world! Like whoa, how much I put you through – thank you for cradling my life.

Now, this is just a place to start. And you may certainly feel silly getting started saying these things. Maybe first in your head, then hopefully out loud as you appreciate each inch of your body as you move along.

Why does this help with loving your body you ask?

The more you begin to connect with your body by physically touching it, the more you will accept it – flaws and all. If you can dig in deep to each curve of your being with physical touch, radiating appreciation and gratitude you can’t help but start to see the beauty in each of your features. By adding in the mental energy, we attach thought to the physicality of our process. And these thoughts are wholly positive. What we think and what we say impacts how we feel about ourselves in the eyes of others, how we present ourselves, what we eat, whether we work out or not, and ultimately how we feel. Our thoughts impact our physical reality. In order to build a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, we must acknowledge our body, love our body and be comfortable in our bodies. We only get one. You have the choice of how you treat it, the energy you use to fuel it, and what you do in it from day to day. It’s time to be present, it’s time to recognize and it’s time to share this beautiful form with the world through appreciation.

You’re going to want to analyze everything more closely and scrutinize the imperfections along the way. Try to hold off from doing so. If these thoughts arise, let them come up and fade away – replacing them with new, healthy positive thoughts of appreciation and love.

The most common practice of dry brushing begins at the limbs and moves towards the heart with soft, gentle strokes. Starting with the hands and the feets, work your way in towards the trunk with sweeping strokes and switch to small circular motions over the trunk.

Some benefits to Dry Brushing: (not scientifically supported necessarily, but you decide)

  • Stimulating the lymphatic system to assist with detoxification in the body
  • Encouraging circulation and increasing energy
  • Exfoliating the whole body – sloughing off dead skin cells
  • Reducing the appearance of cellulite and tightening up appearance of the skin

Independent of whether these are true for you or not – when practiced regularly, the value of taking time with your physical beauty is unparalleled. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ways of loving on your bod or if this practice is something you’d like to start!

 

xo Michelle Pualani

How you have time to workout…

We’re all busy. Trust me. Every other successful person out there doesn’t have some secret behind their success. I used to think that I was the masochist putting myself through these crazy schedules and then would be surprised when others were excelling with what seemed like ease.

Unfortunately, I felt like weeping every day from sheer exhaustion and feeling completely out of control in my health. What I’ve come to learn is that they don’t have some genetic predisposition to being awesome. And they don’t have less in their lives going on than us. Come to terms with that. H. Jackson Brown Jr. is oft-quoted with, “don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

To be even more relevant, “you have the same 24 hours as Beyonce.” That’s putting it in perspective.

We have an incredible amount of time we spend, what I like to dub “puttering.” Puttering around the house – puttering on our phones – puttering running errands – even puttering chatting with people. Time is the most valuable choice we must cherish. Time is only our own and you must treat it well.

What are your goals? Why do you want to accomplish those goals? We start with this idea in Her Healthy Habits and move into the practical steps of making those things happen. Making the commitment to yourself to make more time for yourself – creating more time magically out of thin air? No. Restructuring your schedule and priorities to put your needs and goals first? Yes.

“The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes made an exceptional impact on me earlier this year, and I cannot believe how often we don’t say YES to putting ourselves first. When you start to prioritize your health, your workouts, your healthy eating, your mental wellness… everything else follows. Life starts to fall into place and everything seems to align more holistically, healthfully, and happily. Can you have kids and still be selfish with your desires? YES. Can you have a spouse and still be selfish with your desires? YES. It’s starting with you that makes all the difference.

The more you capitalize on your success and your wants – the more you take care of yourself, the more you can confidently support and nurture others. How can you be patient with your spouse, children, pets, or coworkers when you’re running on little sleep, haven’t consumed anything but coffee since last night, and your exercise life is nonexistent?!

Sleep, healthy nutrition, consistent fitness, and mental wellness is the foundation for a successful life. A foundation for being the best you can be, presenting that beaming face to the world and seeming unconquerable. Untouchable. Say YES to you. Say YES to your health. Stop saying you don’t have enough time, because we all face that same challenge. Take control of your time and you will forever have enough to do those things you love.

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