The Steps I took to Change my Life

 

Sometimes, my mind starts to wander and I think back to the year that my skin was on fire night and day.  I have tried very hard to block those memories out, so maybe you have no idea why this blog is called “The Burned Hand”.  I remember getting the incurable disease and thinking that my life was completely over at just 23 years old.  I feel like Ygritte whispering that I know nothing at that age.  And I didn’t.

I think back to the years that I had my children, and knew that I was so extremely fatigued it wasn’t normal and that I was not “bouncing back” from childbirth.  Then the second blood test and the news I had one more incurable disease, okay.  Not shocking, I already knew.  And more phlebotomies yearly would be needed.

I think back to the year my career as a teacher really started taking off and I was known as Mrs. Happy.  I had finally done it!  I changed my outlook on life and working with invisible diseases wasn’t going to stop me.  And then I started getting violently ill after eating.  I couldn’t look at food.  I looked pregnant all the time and my stomach was distended.  I started having severe allergy attacks, and I had vertigo for 3 weeks.  I spiraled down into a place of pain.  No one could touch my skin again, only this time was worse.  The base of my neck to the sitting bone was on fire.  I felt every single vertebrae as if it was on fire and begging to be put out like a living, breathing thing.

My shoulder went out.  My hip went out.  I couldn’t walk and I took a leave of absence from teaching, for presumably, a year.  I told everyone that, but I knew I was never going back.  I knew.  I actually thought that I was going to stay in that place of pain for a very long time, if not forever. 

I was diagnosed then with an autoimmune disease (just barely they said) and “fibromyalgia” due to the 18 points of pain that were in my body.  Didn’t I want to take pain meds for the rest of my life?  No.  No, I didn’t because I already had one disease that could mess with my liver and I wasn’t going to chance this.  It was at this point, that I realized I was screwed.  I had two options.  Get better or become something I didn’t recognize anymore…wait!  I already was.

The post will continue, but you can open these in new tabs if you are interested for later:

So life beats you down folks.  It does.  And it will over and over again if you let it.  What you do after this is up to you.  So here’s the point in my story that I don’t share much, but I was sitting on the couch in those early years, which yes, I wrote through the pain in 2013, but it barely scratched the surface, anyway, and I knew that I had a choice to make.  Get up and live.  Other people surely had as many diseases as I did, okay, I didn’t know anyone at the time, but surely they existed.  So I would live and change my life for them and show them that it could really be done.  I could do it.

One more test would come back in this puzzle that explained that on a purely cellular level I was not processing things correctly, but at that point, I didn’t care anymore.  I already knew I was different, and I was going to move forward.  So here comes the point where I tell you the steps I took.

The Steps I took To Change My Life:

  1. I decided I was going to change.  <<< This is the biggest one that you have to learn.  No one, and I do mean no one, can force you to change.  Period.  If you are waiting for your sign and this post is speaking to you, please write down on your calendar “Day I decided to change and live my life.”  <<<  Seriously.  You’ve got this.
  2. Stop making excuses and lying to yourself.  I will get out of the house tomorrow.  I will join the gym in a few months.  I will try yoga next month.  I will eat better after the “holidays”.  I will…yup.  Said them all.  Been there done that.  I made a plan, and then I stuck to it.  I called it 4 Weeks to Wellness and when each week was over, I would start back again.  Slowly and surely repeating the things I needed to change.  Fitness, I had to move.  Nutrition, I learned what was causing all that pain, balance, what was that anyway? and finally, self-care which was really lacking.
  3. I learned to be thankful for what I already had.  This one was hard.  Not that I wasn’t thankful, but I was so angry.  I was mad at the universe for giving me this life…never really thinking I had that much control over it all, but I was so very wrong.  I was wrong.  I woke up and started a gratitude practice even in my darkest hours.  I couldn’t sleep, but I would roll over and pull myself off.  I would not think of the pain, if it came in I shut it down with these words “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”  I almost crawled to the bathroom with my eyes shut tight and said I will not insert the F word, think about this F word pain.  When i opened them on my bathroom mirror was the mantra “I am healing”.  Then I would say that to myself every single day.  Also, side note, my girls started to use dry-erase marker like I taught them and left mama messages to read on the mirror.  I was living for them and my husband and I was going to succeed.
  4. I started back to yoga.  I am thankful that someone took the lead in this and initiated my Yoga Teacher Training.  Can you imagine hardly being to move and going to yoga?  I almost said no a thousand times.  I almost quit a thousand times.  I would soak in the tub and almost cry out from pain at doing it, but I would not give up.  I would walk slowly and I would do the best I could, but I would finish that damn training.  I would and I did in June of 2015.  I went on to become certified as well in yoga for arthritis and pain.
  5. I started helping others.  I already had my FB page, but it just wasn’t enough.  How could I connect with others who could change their lives just by thinking about it, writing about it through my new journal therapy, starting a gratitude practice, and with sheer grit, take control of their heads, hearts and health?  I took some money and invested in a platform to build an online community.  I called it the Head|Heart|Health Club and I was going to make it work.  In January of 2017, I opened my doors to everyone who might want help, and I haven’t really looked back.

So if you are new here to the blog, welcome.  I really wanted you to know who I was before, who I am now, and what I am hoping to accomplish for the future of healing yourself.  I know you can do it.  Please stay in touch with me here <<< and get my monthly updates by newsletter if you’d like.  ~Aimee

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Hacking failure…and using it to your advantage.

Failure sucks.  Yup.  We’ve all been there, done that.  You tried and failed miserably.  But what did you do with that knowledge?  Did you give up?  Go on to make more improvements in your life?  Change something about what you did and repeat it to achieve success?  I know that I have failed trying to do a yoga pose and actually fell on my nose…I luckily didn’t break it as I saw the fall coming, but I knew that I had to get stronger or I was not going to be able to hold myself up.

And that my friends, is what failure does for me.  It makes me want to get stronger.  I remember hearing this once about Thomas Edison when asked by a reporter if he should give up on the lightbulb: “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” 

As difficult as it is to remember this lesson, other approaches to what you are working on might work better.  If you feel like you need a fresh set of eyes on something, ask a friend for some objective help.  From personal experience, I know that I didn’t start off knowing how to play soccer.  I had to be knocked down quite a bit in the beginning.  And mountain biking.  Whosh.  I will never forget how ermmm it felt like I had ridden a horse for days in the saddle when I was done with a ride once.  I was like oh.  That’s why people wear padded pants.  Note taken.  And then the bruises and scrapes from falling, but I got back up.

3 lessons I learned from failure:

  1. You get back up and try again.  Okay, so maybe your ego takes a beating.  That does occasionally happen in life.  My ego went to the backseat as I was wrestling with invisible diseases.  Things that had once been easy for me, like eating, became very complicated.  Walking tired me out, so I had to learn new ways to get exercise in.  I came back to yoga and couldn’t do things that I once had a better grasp on.  I knew that it was time for me to get serious about moving forward and that I was really going to experience set-backs, but that no matter what, I couldn’t give up on what I wanted to accomplish.  I was going to complete yoga teacher training even if I soaked in a hot bath with salts every single night.  Even if it hurt to move…because one day, it wouldn’t hurt as much.
  2. There is more than one way to do something.  I started dissecting what was happening to me.  Most of you know that I am fascinated with research and the holistic approach to healing.  I knew that I had to think, act, and imagine the goal being accomplished.  I had to immerse myself in the experience of what I wanted…and I also had to think backwards.  I would take a yoga pose and go slowly.  If my hip was tight, I would have to work on hips for a while.  If I didn’t feel strong, I would have to work on my core again, which side note, ummm had been cut to save my baby (emergency c-section).  I couldn’t compare my progress to anyone’s in the room.  Comparison makes you feel like a failure.  <<< Do not do that to yourself.  You only have to better than you were the day before and that is the root of my progress.  I was not looking at where others were going.  I only looked to myself.
  3. Failure was teaching me how to set myself up for success.  I knew that throughout history, people have failed.  I didn’t own it like it was my shame to fail.  I didn’t think that inventors had woken up one day and said “Hey Wilbur, I think we should build this and fly.”  Poof.  They flew.  Nope.  The crashing part sets you up for that awesome day when you really do learn to fly.  So sticking my crow pose, in yoga this was my nemesis for a while, well, getting into that and holding it for longer than a second takes work.  I am still working, trust me, but the day I did it, I knew that I was making progress in many areas.  Not just the pose or the form, but the act of not giving up.  The act of perseverance and sticking to my goal.

hacking failure

Want to know more about my Head|Heart|Health Club and how you can hack into your own success?  >>> I need support <<<     

9 Steps to Achieving Flow (and Happiness) in Your Work

9 steps to achieving flow

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

A Guest Post by Leo Babauta

Have your ever lost yourself in your work, so much so that you lost track of time? Being consumed by a task like that, while it can be rare for most people, is a state of being called Flow.

In my experience, it’s one of the keys to happiness at work, and a nice side benefit is that it not only reduces stress but increases your productivity. Not bad, huh?

When I wrote about the Magical Power of Focus, I promised to write more about how to achieve Flow, a concept that is very much in vogue right now and something most of us have experienced at one time or another.

Today we’ll take a look at what Flow is, why it’s important, and how to achieve it on a regular basis for increased productivity and happiness at work.

What is Flow?

Put simply, it’s a state of mind you achieve when you’re fully immersed in a task, forgetting about the outside world. It’s a concept proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and these days you’re likely to read about it on blogs and in all kinds of magazines.

When you’re in the state of Flow, you:

  • are completely focused on the task at hand;
  • forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you;
  • lose track of time;
  • feel happy and in control; and
  • become creative and productive.

One thing I love about Flow is that it takes the very Zen concept of being completely in the moment, and applies it to work tasks. It’s a concept I’ve talked a lot about on Zen Habits — being in the moment, focusing completely on a single task, and finding a sense of calm and happiness in your work. Flow is exactly that.

Why is Flow Important?

I believe the ability to single-task (as opposed to multi-task) is one of the keys to true productivity. Not the kind of productivity where you knock off 20 items from your to-do list (although that can be satisfying), where you’re switching between tasks all day long and keep busy all the time.

The true productivity I mean is the kind where you actually achieve your goals, where you accomplish important and long-lasting things. As a writer, that might mean writing one or two important and memorable articles rather than 20 or 50 unimportant ones that people will forget 5 minutes after reading them. It means getting key projects done rather than answering a bunch of emails, making a lot of phone calls, attending a bunch of meetings, and shuffling paperwork all day long. It means closing key deals. It means quality instead of quantity.

And once you’ve learned to focus on those kinds of important projects and tasks, Flow is how you get them done. You lose yourself in those important and challenging tasks, and instead of being constantly interrupted by minor things (calls, emails, IMs, coworkers, etc.), you are able to focus on the tasks long enough to actually complete them.

And by losing yourself in them, you enjoy yourself more. You reduce stress while increasing quality output. You get important stuff done instead of just getting things done. You achieve things rather than just keeping busy.

Flow is one of the keys to all of that.

How to Achieve Flow and Happiness in Your Work

So how do you achieve this mystical state of being? Do you need to meditate or chant anything? No, you don’t (although meditation can improve your ability to concentrate). And Flow is anything but mystical — it’s very practical, and achieving it isn’t mysterious.

It can take practice, but you’ll get better at it. Here are the key steps to achieving and benefiting from Flow:

  1. Choose work you love. If you dread a task, you’ll have a hard time losing yourself in it. If your job is made up of stuff you hate, you might want to consider finding another job. Or consider seeking projects you love to do within your current job. At any rate, be sure that whatever task you choose is something you can be passionate about.
  2. Choose an important task. There’s work you love that’s easy and unimportant, and then there’s work you love that will make a long-term impact on your career and life. Choose the latter, as it will be a much better use of your time, and of Flow.
  3. Make sure it’s challenging, but not too hard. If a task is too easy, you will be able to complete it without much thought or effort. A task should be challenging enough to require your full concentration. However, if it is too hard, you will find it difficult to lose yourself in it, as you will spend most of your concentration just trying to figure out how to do it — either that, or you’ll end up discouraged. It may take some trial and error to find tasks of the appropriate level of difficulty.
  4. Find your quiet, peak time. This is actually two steps grouped into one. First, you’ll want to find a time that’s quiet, or you’ll never be able to focus. For me, that’s mornings, before the hustle of everyday life builds to a dull roar. That might be early morning, when you just wake, or early in the work day, when most people haven’t arrived yet or are still getting their coffee and settling down. Or you might try the lunch hour, when people are usually out of the office. Evenings work well too for many people. Or, if you’re lucky, you can do it at any time of the day if you can find a quiet spot to work in. Whatever time you choose, it should also be a peak energy time for you. Some people get tired after lunch — that’s not a good time to go for Flow. Find a time when you have lots of energy and can concentrate.
  5. Clear away distractions. Aside from finding a quiet time and place to work, you’ll want to clear away all other distractions. That means turning off distracting music (unless you find music that helps you focus), turning off phones, email and IM/PM notifications, Twitter, and anything else that might pop up or make noise to interrupt your thoughts. I also find it helpful to clear my desk, even if that means sweeping miscellaneous papers into a folder to be sorted through later. Of course, these days there isn’t anything on my desk, but I didn’t always work like this. A clear desk helps immensely.
  6. Learn to focus on that task for as long as possible. This takes practice. You need to start on your chosen task and keep your focus on it for as long as you can. At first, many people will have difficulty, if they’re used to constantly switching between tasks. But keep trying, and keep bringing your focus back to your task. You’ll get better. And if you can keep your focus on that task, with no distractions, and if your task has been chosen well (something you love, something important, and something challenging), you should lose yourself in Flow.
  7. Enjoy yourself. Losing yourself in Flow is an amazing thing, in my experience. It feels great to be able to really pour yourself into something worthwhile, to make great progress on a project or important task, to do something you’re passionate about. Take the time to appreciate this feeling (perhaps after the fact — it’s hard to appreciate it while you’re in Flow).
  8. Keep practicing. Again, this takes practice. Each step will take some practice, from finding a quiet, peak time for yourself, to clearing distractions, to choosing the right task. And especially keeping your focus on a task for a long time. But each time you fail, try to learn from it. Each time you succeed, you should also learn from it — what did you do right? And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
  9. Reap the rewards. Aside from the pleasure of getting into Flow, you’ll also be happier with your work overall. You’ll get important stuff done. You’ll complete stuff more often, rather than starting and stopping frequently. All of this is hugely satisfying and rewarding. Take the time to appreciate this, and to continue to practice it every day.

“To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.” – Bertrand Russell

Dear Reader, we are working on uncovering our gifts this month in the Head|Heart|Health Club and using Flow to our advantage as we step into our power.  Want to try it out for a month and see how your life changes?  Feel free to join us!  Just click on “I need support” to read more.  <<<

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Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster…5 Things to Try

Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster...5 Things to Try

Your thoughts can determine your reality.  Do you accept this?  If so then you know that your moods are triggered by your thoughts which then creates a spiral of feelings.  Some are easy to deal with and others, well, let’s just say you might be having a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde conversation in your head.

As we start to spiral out of control, the emotional roller coaster senses it and the chemicals in our body either speed up the coaster or slow it down.  It is also important to note that regular eating habits can maintain a good balance in our blood sugar levels so if that is not the case, eat a snack right now and come back to me.

So after doing a check-in on your emotions, and knowing what your trigger is, it’s time to really dig in and do the work.  If you are reading this article, there is no one peeking over your shoulder to tell you how to feel right now, but you are aware that you might need a few tips and tricks to create less of the roller coaster ride, and more of a great sight-seeing train ride, that stays even and is enjoyable.

5 Tips to Get Off the Coaster:

  1. Are you in the present moment?  Imagine the mood is like a balloon.  Detach from it by letting go of the string and watch it drift away.  Same as old thoughts.  To come into this moment right now, practice breathing deeply for a full round of 3 breaths.  Roll your shoulders back and walk around barefoot as needed.  Feel the sensations in the present moment of your toes on whatever surface you are walking on.  Get grounded.
  2. Don’t act, pause.  If the emotion is at the top of that first hill, ride it out.  Throw your arms up and scream down that hill.  Man.  Emotions can suck, but they can be really cool as well.  Exhilarating even.  Think about the situation as a whole and ponder in a week from now, is this going to be the same?  Visualize the emotion you really want to enter in on your next clank up the roller coaster hill. As you come down that next hill, smile.
  3. Don’t dwell in negative.  We get so caught up in negative news, negative drama, and negative reactions that we tend to stay there.  Change your situation if possible.  Get out of the house.  Go for a walk.  Look for a new job, seriously, if it’s that bad.  But don’t dwell as it hasn’t helped you so far.  Make a plan.  Talk to a  health coach or a counselor if you really want a different perspective.  You can do this.
  4. Journal around your feelings.  I know that I teach this, and have several different tools you can use, but it is really true.  Daily my Club members tell me what a difference it makes just doing one exercise I have taught them.  Trying one new thing.  If you don’t believe me, see the link above and read the comments that scroll at the bottom.  You don’t have to be a great writer to practice this.  You can start off by simply writing “Today really sucked and here is why.”  Then shift that into, here is how I want to feel.  Then the next day you can go one step further and write as if the good news you have been wanting has happened or the day went better than expected.  Each day will get easier.  I know you can do this.
  5. Learn to practice mindfulness.  I did a funny live chat about a lady who was definitely not mindful on my last errand and how her day went compared to the manager who just smiled as she came out of the door.  I then starting thinking what if I have been like that?  What if I am seen in that light if I am in a hurry or if I lose my cool in public, which of course, never happens because I am all zen.  Yup.  A zen Scorpio.  hahaha.  <<< not really, but I am a work in progress, okay?

I don’t proclaim to have all the answers as I am still learning and teaching myself and will continue with each breath.  Each day I could have done things differently and of course, the old thoughts do not serve me.  I must let them go and release them.  Live in the present moment as best I can with the tools I have available to me.  Coach my Club and others using my motto “The burned hand teaches best.”  I can teach you because I have gone through it as well.

Want more guidance?  Come join my Closed group through this link.  I won’t hold you hostage and I know that spending $10 on monthly coaching seems too good to be true, but it’s not.  It’s real.

Can you choose your emotions just like clothes?

Pick your emotion

Complete this sentence.  I feel __________.  Happy?  Sad?  Depressed even.  What if you could change your emotions like how you can change your clothes?  What would you pick out to “wear”?

Well I have a secret.

Whatever your focus on, you feel.  I know.  It’s shocking.  When I go into Angry Hulk mode, every single thing seems to make me mad.  Likewise, when I go into “my life sucks” mode in my head, everything seems to go wrong.  The truth is, I just attract more of that feeling that I don’t want by looking at things this way.

As I would sit in traffic, I would purposely put my favorite music on so that I could focus on that instead of the feeling of anxiety by “being late” or by “being stuck”.  I wasn’t late.  I was arriving when I was destined to and I wasn’t stuck…I just simply was there for a moment.

As I thought about the things that were wrong in my life, they seem to multiply like that old saying “things come in threes.”  I can change my emotions just like my clothes and I have learned to stop a spiral as soon as it starts.

So how can you choose your emotions?

  1. Take control of your head.  Mentally, slap yourself.  Say Snap outta it or whatever you need to do, but remind yourself that it is time to shift your focus.  Does dwelling on the bad make it better?  No.  Could it possibly make it worse?  Yes because you could have a heart attack from the stress, or you could experience heart palpitations from working yourself up over the “thing” in your head.  Trick to try: Visualize a gear shift in you head.  It is now shifting from ____ to happy.  From whatever that emotion is to the opposite.  Lots of time in my group work or my Club, I will tell them to use a thesaurus and work from the feeling they want to get to.  So let’s say it’s peaceful.  We will now shift to that feeling mentally as we visualize a hammock or a garden scene or whatever takes us there.  As we do that, our brain actually sends out the “shifting” signal so that we really are taking back control.  You can do this my friends.
  2. A body in motion.  So you can’t really start running around wherever you are, but how are you being?  I teach a mindful yoga class and let me tell you, the first one, people are all kinds of ways not paying attention to the body language they are sending me.  Phones out, arms crossed, angry-looking eyeballs and frowns.  It almost knocks me over at the first yoga class, but I then start to work my magic.  By the end people are so used to watching how they are being that I can tell.  Try this:   Bring your shoulders up to a shrug then gently rotate them away from your ears.  Let the shoulder blades glide down your back and now bring your hands to heart center with the palms touching.  We call this prayer hands, Anjali Mudra or even Namaste hands, but it is a gesture of peace.  Breathe in and out for a round of three and see how you feel now.  Better?  I thought so.
  3. What are you saying to yourself?  Are you stuck in some old cycle of rubbish?  Do you think things should have turned out differently so you are in constant drag mode?  << Drag or lift baby.  Trust me.  Your feed is full of people who are dragging your energy down daily.  Don’t carry that with you.  Wake up.  Decide to feel awesome.  Proceed to do just that.  Each and every day in my Club, we are constantly re-aligning ourselves.  If the mood starts to shift to drag, I encourage my mindful students to think about ways to cut that drag force out of their lives.  How can we do this?  Try this tip: Leave $5 forward at the register for the next person.  Hold the door when you see someone coming.  Make eye contact with the homeless even if your friend says “You don’t know if they are really homeless.  I see them here allll the time.”  << note friend is a drag force.  get to a room of people working on the same goals as you and if you can’t be there in person, try a virtual club.  But make sure there are more lift forces in your life!! 

Would I like to see you in my Club?  Absolutely.  But only if you really want to work on the things we just talked about and you feel you could really benefit from learning more mindful practices.  Just hit the “I need support.” button over here.  <<< as I linked those words to my platform.  I don’t hold you hostage and you are free to leave at any time.  I am just adding some tools to that toolbox of yours for a day when you really need it.

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Raise Your Energy Right Now With These 3 Tips!

3 tips to raise energyI know you feel it too.  Some wonky, stagnant, possibly influenced by Mercury Retrograde, weird vibes.  The downdraft of negative energy is flowing around your T.V., other people, and your cell phone.  Anytime you see a headline of something negative, you feel yourself being pulled down.  Every click-baity headline designed to grab your energy is doing just that.

It is more vital than ever to surround yourself by those types of energies you really want to attract and protect yourself from the ones you wish you could repel.  So how exactly do we repel the bad stuff?

We raise our energy!

We work each and every day to detoxify our heads, hearts and improve our overall health by clearing ourselves of the energetic gunk that is trying to drag us down.  Our programming, our limiting beliefs, and much more that feels “heavy” and not in true alignment with who we want to be has got to be shed like a snake skin.

Great!  How do we do this?

  1. Stop.  Drop.  And meditate or sit in easy pose (sukhasana).  I am going to give you a tip from my Club this month.  I knew that people would need support during this time, so I wanted to introduce easy and accessible yoga poses to my Head|Heart|Health Club.  I want you to begin your practice seated…anywhere, but outside in the sun is great as well.  Close your eyes and feel the earth beneath you.  Feel every part of your body and visualize the earth supporting you.  You are at peace.  Take a deep breath in through your nose and as you let out a long exhale, feel your feet, legs and pelvis releasing a bit further into the ground.  As you begin to surrender to the pose, notice how you feel without resistance.  The spine naturally feels better and more light.  The crown of the head is nice and level.  You feel a good connection to the ground beneath you and you are at ease.  Thus easy pose has already helped stabilize your mood.
  2. Express gratitude for the world around you.  Do not spend this time yearning for the things you do not have.  Instead, appreciate the good in your life and it will come back to you ten-fold.  This practice begins to increase the abundance in life and I have personally noticed a huge shift upon repeating my 30 day Gratitude Journal exercises.  If you need more support on this, feel free to visit my E-book link.  The science of being thankful for what we already have in our lives was the true basis of how I learned to heal what I once perceived as a broken body.  Shifting my perspective to what I could do versus what I could not do continues to help me through life as well as through my yoga practice.  I am so very grateful that I can move again without crying because I can remember a time when this was one of the hardest things I ever did.  Making it from the bed to the bathroom.  Little by little, that practice of waking up and saying thank you with each step healed my soul.
  3. Learn to eat more mindfully.  This one can be a difficult task for lots of people.  I am teaching in my Club this month that eating Mindfully does not mean starvation.  It simply means being more aware of what certain types of food do to your moods, how you feel after you eat, and what actually makes you feel amazing versus what makes you feel regret and guilt.  Mindful eating also involves higher vibrational foods such as clean eating.  One ingredient good ole’ vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other things you can actually pronounce.  As well as upping the water intake daily.  It really can be that simple to start raising your vibration and blocking the energy drain.

I hope you enjoyed these tips today and if you want more information on anything that I teach, please see my brand new online portal.  When you click I need support, it takes you to read about the Club and what we have to offer you!

Tips to Raise energy

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Top 20 Motivation Tips

top 20 motivation tipsGuest Post By Leo Babauta

This article is a list of tips and tricks that, if used in combination, are a nearly sure way to achieve your goals.

Achieving goals is not a matter of having “discipline”. It’s a matter of motivating yourself, and keeping your focus on your goal. Follow these tips, or any combination of them that works for you, and you should have the motivation and focus you need.

Here are the top 20 Motivation Tips:

1. Chart Your Progress. Recently I posted about how I created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I’m doing. It’s to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I’m diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or “x”s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, “I better do this today if I want to mark a dot.” Well, that’s a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe’s Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

2. Hold Yourself Back. When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself. After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

3. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated.  Editor’s note, join an online community by searching for what you love near you.  If it is daily motivation you are searching for with an online community and a closed group, check this link here and click on “I Need Support”.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

4. Post a picture of your goal someplace visible — near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example. Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you’ve achieved it, whether it’s financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long-term — once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

5. Get a workout partner or goal buddy. Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. You don’t have to be going after the same goals — as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

6. Just get started. There are some days when you don’t feel like heading out the door for a run, or figuring out your budget, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do that day for your goal. Well, instead of thinking about how hard it is, and how long it will take, tell yourself that you just have to start.

I have a rule (not an original one) that I just have to put on my running shoes and close the door behind me. After that, it all flows naturally. It’s when you’re sitting in your house, thinking about running and feeling tired, that it seems hard. Once you start, it is never as hard as you thought it would be. This tip works for me every time.

7. Make it a pleasure. One reason we might put off something that will help us achieve our goal, such as exercise for example, is because it seems like hard work. Well, this might be true, but the key is to find a way to make it fun or pleasurable. If your goal activity becomes a treat, you actually look forward to it. And that’s a good thing.

8. Give it time, be patient. I know, this is easier said than done. But the problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. When you think about your goals, think long term. If you want to lose weight, you may see some quick initial losses, but it will take a long time to lose the rest. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight. If you don’t see the results you want soon, don’t give up … give it time. In the meantime, be happy with your progress so far, and with your ability to stick with your goals. The results will come if you give it time.

9. Break it into smaller, mini goals. Sometimes large or longer-term goals can be overwhelming. After a couple of weeks, we may lose motivation, because we still have several months or a year or more left to accomplish the goal. It’s hard to maintain motivation for a single goal for such a long time. Solution: have smaller goals along the way.

10. Reward yourself. Often. And not just for longer-term goals, either. Above, I talked about breaking larger goals into smaller, mini goals. Well, each of those mini goals should have a reward attached to it. Make a list of your goals, with mini goals, and next to each, write down an appropriate reward. By appropriate, I mean 1) it’s proportionate to the size of the goal (don’t reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); and 2) it doesn’t ruin your goal — if you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It’s self-defeating.

11. Find inspiration, on a daily basis. Inspiration is one of the best motivators, and it can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain motivation over the long-term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, photos, people you meet.

12. Get a coach or take a class. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. It can be applied to any goal. This might be one of the more expensive ways of motivating yourself, but it works. And if you do some research, you might find some cheap classes in your area, or you might know a friend who will provide coaching or counseling for free.

13. Have powerful reasons. Write them down. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down. If you have loved ones, and you are doing it for them, that is more powerful than just doing it for self-interest. Doing it for yourself is good too, but you should do it for something that you REALLY REALLY want to happen, for really good reasons.

14. Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them. We all have urges to stop, but they are mostly unconscious. One of the most powerful things you can do is to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges. Then have a plan for when those urges hit, and plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan.

15. Make it a rule never to skip two days in a row. This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day … now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy … tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row! Zen Habits says so! And just get started. You’ll thank yourself later.

16. Visualize your goal clearly, on a daily basis, for at least 5-10 minutes. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes, and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Now here’s the next key: do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the only way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.

17. Keep a daily journal of your goal. If you are consistent about keeping a journal, it can be a great motivator. A journal should have not only what you did for the day, but your thoughts about how it went, how you felt, what mistakes you made, what you could do to improve. To be consistent about keeping a journal, do it right after you do your goal task each day. Make keeping a journal a sensory pleasure.

18. Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition. We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Some more than others. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. If you have a workout partner or goal buddy, you’ve got all you need for a friendly competition. See who can log more miles, or save more dollars, each week or month. See who can do more pushups or pullups. See who can lose the most weight or have the best abs or lose the most inches on their waist. Make sure the goals are weighted so that the competition is fairly equal. And mutually support each other in your goals.

19. Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed. This will do the trick every time. Create a blog and announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date. Commit yourself to the hilt.

20. Always think positive. Monitor your thoughts. Be aware of your self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, a lot, but we are not always aware of these thoughts. Start listening. If you hear negative thoughts, stop them, push them out, and replace them with positive thoughts. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

Motivation Tips

10 Tips for Quitting Smoking

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of quitting smoking (editor’s note, he quit in 2007). Well, of finally quitting … like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times and failed. But this quit stuck, and I’d like to share the top 10 things that made this quit successful when the others failed.

1. Commit Thyself Fully. In the quits that failed, I was only half into it. I told myself I wanted to quit, but I always felt in the back of my mind that I’d fail. I didn’t write anything down, I didn’t tell everybody (maybe my wife, but just her). This time, I wrote it down. I wrote down a plan. I blogged about it. I made a vow to my daughter. I told family and friends I was quitting. I went online and joined a quit forum. I had rewards. Many of these will be in the following tips, but the point is that I fully committed, and there was no turning back. I didn’t make it easy for myself to fail.

2. Make a Plan. You can’t just up and say, “I’m gonna quit today.” You have to prepare yourself. Plan it out. Have a system of rewards, a support system, a person to call if you’re in trouble. Write down what you’ll do when you get an urge. Print it out. Post it up on your wall, at home and at work. If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you’re going to do, you’ve already lost. You have to be ready when those urges come.

3. Know Your Motivation. When the urge comes, your mind will rationalize. “What’s the harm?” And you’ll forget why you’re doing this. Know why you’re doing this BEFORE that urge comes. Is it for your kids? For your wife? For you health? So you can run? Because the girl you like doesn’t like smokers? Have a very good reason or reasons for quitting. List them out. Print them out. Put it on a wall. And remind yourself of those reasons every day, every urge.

4. Not One Puff, Ever (N.O.P.E.). The mind is a tricky thing. It will tell you that one cigarette won’t hurt. And it’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when you’re in the middle of an urge. And those urges are super hard to argue with. Don’t give in. Tell yourself, before the urges come, that you will not smoke a single puff, ever again. Because the truth is, that one puff WILL hurt. One puff leads to a second, and a third, and soon you’re not quitting, you’re smoking. Don’t fool yourself. A single puff will almost always lead to a recession. DO NOT TAKE A SINGLE PUFF!

5. Join a Forum. One of the things that helped the most in this quit was an online forum for quitters (quitsmoking.about.com) … you don’t feel so alone when you’re miserable. Misery loves company, after all. Go online, introduce yourself, get to know the others who are going through the exact same thing, post about your crappy experience, and read about others who are even worse than you. Best rule: Post Before You Smoke. If you set this rule and stick to it, you will make it through your urge. Others will talk you through it. And they’ll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day 2, 3, and 4, week 1 and beyond. It’s great fun.

6. Reward Yourself. Set up a plan for your rewards. Definitely reward yourself after the first day, and the second, and the third. You can do the fourth if you want, but definitely after Week 1 and Week 2. And month 1, and month 2. And 6 months and a year. Make them good rewards, that you’ll look forward to: CDs, books, DVDs, T-shirts, shoes, a massage, a bike, a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a hotel stay … whatever you can afford. Even better: take whatever you would have spent on smoking each day, and put it in a jar. This is your Rewards Jar. Go crazy! Celebrate your every success! You deserve it.

7. Delay. If you have an urge, wait. Do the following things: take 10 deep breaths. Drink water. Eat a snack (at first it was candy and gum, then I switched to healthier stuff like carrots and frozen grapes and pretzels). Call your support person. Post on your smoking cessation forum. Exercise. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, BUT DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. You will make it through it, and the urge will go away. When it does, celebrate! Take it one urge at a time, and you can do it.

8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones. What do you do when you’re stressed? If you currently react to stress with a cigarette, you’ll need to find something else to do. Deep breathing, self massage of my neck and shoulders, and exercise have worked wonders for me. Other habits, such as what you do the first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually smoke, should be replaced with better, more positive ones. Running has been my best positive habit, although I have a few others that replaced smoking.

9. Make it Through Hell Week, then Heck Week, and You’re Golden. The hardest part of quitting is the first two days. If you can get past that, you’ve passed the nicotine withdrawal stage, and the rest is mostly mental. But all of the first week is hell. Which is why it’s called Hell Week. After that, it begins to get easier. Second week is Heck Week, and is still difficult, but not nearly as hellish as the first. After that, it was smooth sailing for me. I just had to deal with an occasional strong urge, but the rest of the urges were light, and I felt confident I could make it through anything.

10. If You Fall, Get Up. And Learn From Your Mistakes. Yes, we all fail. That does not mean we are failures, or that we can never succeed. If you fall, it’s not the end of the world. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. I failed numerous times before succeeding. But you know what? Each of those failures taught me something. Well, sometimes I repeated the same mistakes several times, but eventually I learned. Figure out what your obstacles to success are, and plan to overcome them in your next quit. And don’t wait a few months until your next quit. Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully to it, and go for it!

BONUS TIP #11: THINK POSITIVE. This is the most important tip of all. I saved it for last. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will succeed. Trust me. It works. Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. Tell yourself that you can’t do it, and you definitely won’t. When things get rough, think positive! You CAN make it through the urge. You CAN make it through Hell Week. And you can. I did. So have millions of others. We are no better than you. (In my case, worse.)

 Editor’s note:  Lots of people have asked for this, so I pulled a guest post.  If you are interested in replacing some thoughts with positive ones and being more mindful of getting healthy, see the Work With Me tab as I would suggest the Gratitude Journal to keep you going on the right path.

Reduce Stress Now With These 3 Tips!

tips for stressEvery single day, I see signs of stress.  The most stressed people seem to pop in to my yoga class as beginners.  They are literally alive with stress.  I can read their energy like a neon sign.  Do I have the right mat?  Let me look at my phone again for just a second to alert everyone not to bother me for an hour.  Oh, look at her yoga pants.  Is that what I should have bought?  My toes.  Crap.  I didn’t get a pedicure and this class sees my toes.  What if she makes me ohm?  I can’t be doing that.  It’s against my beliefs. 

Okay, so some of these have actually been said directly to me as the yoga teacher…and others said to a friend nearby.  It’s a small quiet space and I pick up on things.  The truth is, I can actually narrow it down to 3 tips because we just don’t do this in our lives.

Reduce Stress With These 3 Tips:

  1. Be present.  <<< I can actually end the article right here, but most people don’t know how to be present, so let me explain.  I read somewhere that being present is an ART.  And I want you to remember that.  In your Activities, Routines, and Triggers.  What we do daily…where we are.  Kids activities or yours.  Be mindful of your feelings and stress levels.  In your daily routines, pay attention to what you are thinking about.  Is it in the now or the past or future?  Focus.  Lastly, triggers.  These we need more help with.  <<< You can open my linked guest post after this.
  2. Are you taking a step back and breathing?  Most people do not take a step back and inhale deeply.  Even in my yoga classes, I actually have to teach deep breathing.  People even breathe quickly.  Like hurry up breath, I got things to do.  But instead, rephrase and mentally say “I can slow down and breathe today.”  If you take longer, deeper, more cellular breaths you will actually start to lower your blood pressure, so do that for a full round of three.  Daily.  Each time you feel stress, panic or anxiety come on.
  3. Think for yourself in a non-judging way.  As I said today on my FB Live, yes, this one is hard people.  Most people lack the ability to just let the thoughts pass by as observations.  Sometimes we think not nice things.  About ourselves, others, society as a whole, etc.  Sometimes, the thoughts aren’t even ours.  They were programmed in long ago by things we heard our parents say and now we say them to ourselves too.  But what if we practiced discernment?  The ability to practice more understanding or awareness.  What if we knew we sounded like a programmed robot on auto-pilot?

My glorious and wonderful friend was so scared of letting me down, her words, in my yoga class that she came in apologizing.  She hadn’t seen me in years, and wasn’t aware at all of how I taught yoga.  She knew she wanted to do it, and in her eyes, it was the Instagram version.  Umm no.  I am not an Insta teacher.  She thought she had to be flexible (no), dressed in the latest (no), and have a pedicure.  No.  It took several classes of me actually teaching the yogic breathing, philosophy and more to get her to come in to class and just breathe a sigh of relief.  No one was watching her.  They were all in their own heads.  It is okay to fall out of a pose.  It is okay to try something and fail.

The stress she had created in her mind was all based off assumptions of judgement, and fear of wanting to fit in.  As we practice patience, trust, acceptance, and letting go, we can begin to feel the stress melt away.  So what if you mess up?  In anything?  The beauty of life is that you can start again.   

Why worry strips you of POWER (and what to do about it)!

Worry strips power

Worry.  Worry is one of the most useless habits that I have.  Worry strips power.  It changes nothing at all, and yet I physically feel drained.  It doesn’t help me in any way, shape or form, and yet it is still there.  Trying to get my attention.

This could go wrong, it screams in my head.  You have busted your knee up for good girl, screams the voice.  You made so much progress, but it’s all gone now.  UGH.  None of this is helping me at all.  So yesterday, I told it where it could go.  And it stayed there all day long.  It really did.

I know that in practicing yoga and creating lasting mindful habits, I am happier.  I know that wearing a knee brace and worrying that my MCL is not healing correctly is ruminating and I get that from certain family members.  It hasn’t helped them either by the way.  Let me explain.  I have been to the doctor.  I have had it checked out.  I am following what he said to do.  However; every other day a person named “dad” calls me to “worry” about my knee with me.

I have two daughters, so I get it.  I really do.  But worry doesn’t prevent anything from happening UNLESS you were actually using it to create some plan of attack on the battlefield or something.  Maybe it was designed to help us at one point way in the past.  However, my dad must be planning an attack on everything in his life.  Whew, it’s exhausting.  And he knows this, so I finally had to say if my knee comes up one more time, he had to give me money.  HAHAHAHA.  One thing that will keep him quiet…money.

How to take back your Power:

  1. Name the worry.  Acknowledge it.  Say hi to it, then put it in time-out.  I did that yesterday.  I created a how-to video for yoga on modifications with an MCL injury.  I was very, very careful and know that I am getting a re-check today anyway.
  2. Staying present took its power away.  I mindfully cleaned my living room.  Thinking about each task.  Didn’t go to past or future, but stayed in the present moment on purpose.  I didn’t day dream…for once.  I made sure I started my day by grounding with 3 deep breaths.
  3. Emotions are just that.  They pass.  Anger, shame, guilt, and worry.  All pass.  This will pass.  This anxiety will pass.  This feeling will pass.  I know it as I have lived through other “worries” that never came to pass.
  4. Don’t encourage it.  I didn’t want to be rude to dad, but I also didn’t want to talk about the same thing each and every day without it going anywhere.  That’s like the old saying about worry being like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.  I don’t feel like being that person anymore.  I am creating boundaries around this that it can’t get through.
  5. Be real.  Okay, so it’s natural to worry a bit.  As long as you don’t stay there.  What can you do instead though?  Everyone in my Head|Heart|Health Club knows that I am going to ask you if you are putting the work into what you DO want to happen and take it away from what you don’t want to happen.  How you manage life is up to you.  If you start to notice this pattern, remember that it is truly up to you to change.  Redirect this energy to Empower.

Still need more help in this area?  Want to practice taking back your power on a regular basis?  Join us!

Inhale confidence.