Walking the Camino

Walking the Camino

With just under one month to go, my excitement level for this upcoming adventure is rising steadily every day.  We leave Tel Aviv on June 13th!  I can hardly believe it.

Camino TrailBefore I go on with this article I need to make some corrections to my last piece about the Camino.  First of all, I gave you the incorrect name of the city from which we will begin our trek.  It is called Pamplona.  The second correction is that we end up at the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean.  Forgive me for providing incorrect information.  Truly, as a health professional, that’s just not acceptable.

So, as the date quickly approaches, I’m busy ensuring I have everything I need for this walk.  That would include all of the necessary paperwork, passport, applicable other cards and my phone and tablet.  While I’m away I’ll be connecting with my clients via Skype, Messenger, or Duo and I’m so grateful for technology.

The baggage won’t be large or heavy this time around as there will be no need for multiple changes along the way.  We’ll be literally “washing and wearing” repeatedly the same things.  For a person who likes to wear different clothes every day, this will be a little challenge.  I did score some great sandals to take along for walking as well as my boots (the orange ones I talked about earlier).  Rain gear, shorts, tights and some “real” clothes for the times when I need to look like a lady …

I’ll be posting on Facebook under nurit.amichai and on my webpage:  www.forthehealthofit.co.il

Be sure to drop in occasionally to see what I’m up to, view the remarkable scenery, and hear from some of the people I meet along the way.

We’re planning a party to celebrate our departure and we’ll probably have one to celebrate our return.  I mean, what better excuse for a party than celebrating the Camino!

 

How to kick junk food

How to Kick the Junk Food Habit and Eat Healthy

The good news is that the research shows that the less junk food you eat, the less you crave it. If you can find ways to eat healthier, you’ll find that your cravings for junk food diminish.
I’m a serious fan of James Clear and he has written a strategy that seems to work, so I’m going to share it with you here:

1. Use the “outer ring” strategy and the “5 ingredient rule” to buy healthier food.
The best course of action is to avoid buying processed and packaged foods. If you don’t have it in your house, you can’t eat it. Furthermore, if you don’t think about it, you can’t be lured by it.
We’ve talked about the power of junk food to pull you in and how memories of tasty food in the past can cause you to crave more of it in the future. Obviously, you can’t prevent yourself from ever thinking about junk food, but there are ways to reduce your cravings.
James has a strategy he calls “outer ring strategy”, and something I teach my clients very early on in our experience together. Just shop on the outer ring of the grocery store, you know, where all of the fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy are stocked. Now, just because it’s on the outer ring doesn’t mean it’s all healthy, but you will definitely avoid a lot of unhealthy foods this way.
Then there’s the “5 ingredient rule” … if something has more than five ingredients in it, leave it on the shelf. Odds are the food has been engineered to make you want to eat more of it.
We know that the additives in some foods are there to create cravings, so my own personal philosophy regarding reading food labels is this: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

2. Eat a variety of foods.
As we covered earlier, the brain craves variety and novelty.

If you’re craving the crunch and cream of an Oreo, try instead dipping a carrot in hummus – you’ll get a very similar sensation. Try cooking with new spices and flavors you haven’t used before. Preparing ethnic foods is a favorite of mine. By trying new ethnic dishes, I learn about different spices and ways to prepare foods.

3. Find a better way to deal with your stress.
You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned this before, especially since so many people use food as a coping mechanism for stress. Stress causes certain regions of the brain to release chemicals (specifically, opiates and neuropeptide Y). These chemicals can trigger mechanisms that are similar to the cravings you get from fat and sugar. In other words, when you get stressed, your brain feels the addictive call of fat and sugar and you’re pulled back to junk food.

We all have stressful situations that arise in our lives. Learning to deal with stress in a different way can help you overcome the addictive pull of junk food. Heading off to the gym, doing a yoga class, taking some time out for a short guided meditation or doing a craft are all options when it comes to heading off stress eating.

Where to Go From Here
One of my goals with this article is to reveal just how complex poor eating habits can be. Junk food is designed to keep you coming back for more. Telling people that they “need more willpower” or should “just stop eating junk” is short-sighted at best.

In order to create new habits around food, it’s important to ask for what you need. Most of us would love to believe we can handle it by ourselves and, when we don’t, we head back into the spiral of poor eating habits.

It doesn’t have to be that way for you. If you’re ready to kick junk food and get your mind set on good behaviors that serve you, contact me and Let’s Talk.

junk food

What Happens to Your Brain When You Eat Junk Food

If it’s so bad for us, why do we keep doing it?

You already know that junk food is unhealthy. Besides knowing the net effect on your physical health, you might even know that eating junk food has been linked to increases in depression. So, if that’s the case, why in the world do we keep eating the stuff?
The science that provides some of the answers might surprise you.

Why We Crave Junk Food

The science below is provided from a report by Steven Witherly, a food scientist who has studied what makes certain foods more addictive (and tasty) than others. According to Witherly, when you eat tasty food, there are two factors that make the experience pleasurable:

First, there is the sensation of eating the food. This includes what it tastes like (salty, sweet, umami, etc.), what it smells like, and how it feels in your mouth. This last quality — known as “orosensation” — can be particularly important. Food companies will spend millions of dollars to discover the most satisfying level of crunch in a potato chip. Their scientists will test for the perfect amount of fizzle in a soda. These factors all combine to create the sensation that your brain associates with a particular food or drink.
The second factor is the actual macronutrient makeup of the food — the blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that it contains. In the case of junk food, food manufacturers are looking for a perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat that excites your brain and gets you coming back for more.

Here’s how they do it…

How Science Creates Cravings
There are a range of factors that scientists and food manufacturers use to make food more addictive.

Dynamic contrast. Dynamic contrast refers to a combination of different sensations in the same food. In the words of Witherly, foods with dynamic contrast have “an edible shell that goes crunch followed by something soft or creamy and full of taste-active compounds. This rule applies to a variety of our favorite food structures — the caramelized top of a creme brulee, a slice of pizza, or an Oreo cookie — the brain finds crunching through something like this very novel and thrilling.”

Salivary response. Salivation is part of the experience of eating food and the more that a food causes you to salivate, the more it will swim throughout your mouth and cover your taste buds. For example, emulsified foods like butter, chocolate, salad dressing, ice cream, and mayonnaise promote a salivary response that helps to lather your taste buds with goodness. This is one reason why many people enjoy foods that have sauces or glazes on them. The result is that foods that promote salivation do a happy little tap dance on your brain and taste better than ones that don’t.

Rapid food meltdown and vanishing caloric density. Foods that rapidly vanish or “melt in your mouth” signal to your brain that you’re not eating as much as you actually are. In other words, these foods literally tell your brain that you’re not full, even though you’re eating a lot of calories.

The result: you tend to overeat.

Sensory-specific response. Your brain likes variety. When it comes to food, if you experience the same taste over and over again, then you start to get less pleasure from it. In other words, the sensitivity of that specific sensor will decrease over time. This can happen in just minutes.

Junk foods, however, are designed to avoid this sensory-specific response. They provide enough taste to be interesting (your brain doesn’t get tired of eating them), but it’s not so stimulating that your sensory response is dulled. This is why you can swallow an entire bag of potato chips and still be ready to eat another. To your brain, the crunch and sensation of eating Doritos is novel and interesting every time.

Calorie density. Junk foods are designed to convince your brain that it is getting nutrition, but to not fill you up. Receptors in your mouth and stomach tell your brain about the mixture of proteins, fats, carbohydrates in a particular food, and how filling that food is for your body. Junk food provides just enough calories that your brain says, “Yes, this will give you some energy” but not so many calories that you think “That’s enough, I’m full.” The result is that you crave the food to begin with, but it takes quite some time to feel full from it.

Memories of past eating experiences. This is where the psychobiology of junk food really works against you. When you eat something tasty (like a bag of potato chips), your brain registers that feeling. The next time you see that food, smell that food, or even read about that food, your brain starts to trigger the memories and responses that came when you ate it. These memories can actually cause physical responses like salivation and create the “mouth-watering” craving that you get when thinking about your favorite foods.

All of this brings us to the most important question of all. Food companies are spending millions of dollars to design foods with addictive sensations. What can you and I do about it? Is there any way to counteract the money, the science, and the advertising behind the junk food industry?

hiking boots

Walking the Camino

Last month I introduced you to my plans for June … walking the El Camino de Santiago Compostella Trail in Spain.  The trek itself, from beginning to end, can be done in a few weeks.  However, since I will only be able to take a couple of weeks off to walk this adventure, my friend and I will begin in Pompella and work our way to the Mediterranean Coast of Spain, ending in Santiago where we hope to meet up with some friends from Canada who are also walking the trail around the same time.

These boots were made for walking …

Camino TrailThe most obvious and, dare I say important, piece of equipment we need to make this walk successful is good footwear. I’ve read horror stories of people who walked the Camino (and other treks) only to be delayed by painful blisters on their feet.

I remember getting blisters from shoes that didn’t fit well and the very thought of walking miles and miles on sore feet leaves me cold.  I want to enjoy this walk and as a result, when I was in Italy last fall I purchased a pair of excellent hiking boots, very light weight and in one of my favorite colors – light orange.  They’re not only comfortable (I’ve been breaking them in all winter), but they’re also a fashion statement. 🙂

Carrying more than a backpack

Not only will we be carrying a backpack, we’ll be carrying our bodies along the route.  To prepare for this part of the adventure, my friend and I have been working on our posture and back strength.  For the past several months, we’ve devoted one full workout a week to strengthening our core and back muscles.  A strong core ensures we’ll be able to hold our bodies upright and protect our backs from stress caused by bearing weight.

Of course, strong legs and endurance are key to fulfilling our daily quota to ensure we arrive in Santiago when planned.  Our plan is to cover 25 km per day, something we know is doable in about five hours, six if we dawdle.

What are your plans for this year?

Back in the early part of this year I produced a Facebook video about my plans for the Camino and challenged you to find something significant for yourself to accomplish this year.  How are you making out with your plans?

There’s nothing like a big goal to get you motivated to make changes.  It’s my hope you’ll be inspired by my efforts.  Be sure to follow me on Facebook as I continue my preparations.  Once I’m in Spain, I’ll be vlogging and posting to keep you abreast of my walk.

An Exercise in Letting Go

An Exercise in Letting Go

Many years ago I studied a method called the Sedona Method. It is a very simple way to let go of thoughts that do not serve us. I learned, through using this method, that I am not a helpless victim of my own thoughts, but rather a master of my own mind.

If you’re holding onto thoughts that no longer serve you, that keep you in a place where you are stuck and unable to move forward, try this exercise.

Exercise: Letting Go

As you read this, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, allow all the tension to leave your body. Let your scalp and your forehead and your face relax. Your head doesn’t need to be tense in order to read. Relax your tongue, throat, and shoulders. Let your back, abdomen and your pelvis relax and breathe peacefully as you relax your legs and feet.

Are you noticing a change in your body since you began this little exercise? Notice how much you hold on. Now, if you’re doing it with your body, you are doing it with your mind, too.

In this relaxed and comfortable position, say to yourself, “I am willing to let go. I release. I let go. I release all tension. I release all fear. I release all anger. I release all guilt and sadness. I let go of all old limitations. I let go, and I am at peace. I am at peace with myself. I am at peace with the process of life. I am safe.”

Go over this exercise two or three times. Feel the ease of letting go. Repeat it whenever you feel thoughts of difficulty coming up. Sure, it takes a little practice in order for the routine to become part of you, but when you put yourself in a peaceful state first, it becomes easier for the positive thoughts to take hold. No need to struggle or stress or strain … relax and think the thoughts that nurture and support your best self. Yes, it really is that easy.

Here’s Another One

I love this exercise because it really is incredibly simple and has taught me that what I think about really is my choice. Yes, you do have a choice about what you think.

So, think about something you want to change. It could be a situation with a person, a place or thing. It might be about your eating habits … whatever it is, simply focus on it and feel what it’s like to want to change it. Now, ask yourself these questions:

Could I let this go?
Would I?
When?

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with changing things in life that you’d like to change. All too often we get stuck in “wanting” rather than in taking action.

Of course, for most of you, these exercises may be a bit of a stretch. The purpose in sharing them with you is to help you see that you can take control of your thoughts and use them to power positive change in your life as opposed to keeping you in a state that doesn’t serve you.

It’s all in your head

All In Your Head

You’re no doubt familiar with the saying, “It’s all in your head”, am I correct? Well, what if it is? What if the answers to your issues are inside you? Mindset is a major component of the mind-body connection and science continues to unveil the power our beliefs have in the healing process. The use of the placebo effect when determining the power of the mindset to influence health outcomes is well known. By working with a certified health coach, it is possible to overcome limiting beliefs, work through past traumas that may be keeping you in a mindset of failure, and move forward into vibrant health and fulfillment. Your success or your lack of success is, most often …

ALL IN YOUR HEAD

Your Thoughts Create Your Experiences

What if you could begin to change your body, your health, your life by changing your thoughts? I know you’ve heard about it, maybe you’ve even tried a few different methods, but things just didn’t happen quite as quickly as you thought they should. The truth is that we really are what we believe. Our beliefs become our truths and our truths are what we base our lives upon. What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. Each of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings. The thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences.

Using Your Thoughts to Make Changes

Now, you may be thinking … There she goes – another one of “those people”. However, if you’re open to the idea, maybe you can glean something from this that will help you move toward your goals of a slim and strong body, tons of energy, and a lifestyle that speaks loudly of good vibes and vibrant health.

For instance …

If you constantly talk about yourself as unable to stick to anything; destined to remain fat and unhealthy because that’s the way it is in your family; lacking willpower or any other negative framework you put yourself into, what do you think you’ll perpetuate? Hm. Right. Fat, unhealthy,stuck habits that don’t serve you and keep you in the very place you want to escape.

So, what if you began to change your mind about yourself? What if you began to feed your mind with positive, constructive self-talk that supports the ideas of healthy eating, exercise and joy? What do you think might happen?

Stop Blaming and Take Responsibility

I know many of you have experienced the cruel tongues of peers, parents, teachers, and others who may have put you down or disparaged you. It’s not funny and it truly hurts and leaves scars. Yet, how many of you hold on to those memories and relive them all too often, sealing the pain and negative belief in your mind?

The fact is that blaming does not take the pain away, nor does it excuse you from being responsible for your own life. You’re not a little kid any longer – you’re an adult with adult responsibilities and challenges. By taking responsibility for your own life, health, and mindset, you take the power away from the bullies and those who hurt you and they no longer have the ability to put you down. You get to stand up to the bullies and change the course of your life.

It isn’t quite as difficult as you may imagine. It is likely those people are long gone from your life, but you keep them active by recalling and rehearsing the past. When is it time to let the past go?

Tips for Strengthening Self-Esteem

Tips for Strengthening Self-Esteem

Some Good Advice

Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.” — Maxwell Maltz
When we’re born we come into the world with only two fears – that of loud noises and that of falling. All the rest are learned along the way. Some of those fears break down our self-confidence but the good news is that there are ways to work on building great self-esteem and confidence that, if practiced diligently, will reap great results.

Visualize yourself as you want to be.
“What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill
Visualization is the technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of, in your own mind. When you struggle with low self-confidence, you have a poor perception of yourself that is often inaccurate. Practice visualizing a fantastic version of yourself, achieving your goals.

Affirm yourself.
“Affirmations are a powerful tool to deliberately install desired beliefs about yourself.” — Nikki Carnevale
We tend to behave in accordance with our own self-image. The trick to making lasting change is to change how you view yourself.
Affirmations are positive and uplifting statements that you say to yourself. These are normally more effective if said out loud so that you can hear yourself say it. We tend to believe whatever we tell ourselves constantly. For example, if you hate your own physical appearance, practice saying something that you appreciate or like about yourself when you next look in the mirror.
To get your brain to accept your positive statements more quickly, phrase your affirmations as questions such as, “Why am I so good at my craft?” instead of “I am so good at my craft.” Our brains are biologically wired to seek answers to questions, without analyzing whether the question is valid or not.

Do one thing that scares you every day.
“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”–T. Harv Eker
The best way to overcome fear is to face it head-on. By doing something that scares you every day and gaining confidence from every experience, you will see your self-confidence soar. So get out of your comfort zone and face your fears!

Question your inner critic.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise L. Hay
Some of the harshest comments that we get come from ourselves, via the “voice of the inner critic.” If you struggle with low self-confidence, there is a possibility that your inner critic has become overactive and inaccurate.

Strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy help you to question your inner critic, and look for evidence to support or deny the things that your inner critic is saying to you. For example, if you think that you are a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I am a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I am a failure?”

Find opportunities to congratulate, compliment and reward yourself, even for the smallest successes. As Mark Twain said, “[A] man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Help someone else.
Helping someone else often enables us to forget about ourselves and to feel grateful for what we have. It also feels good when you are able to make a difference for someone else.
Instead of focusing on your own weaknesses, volunteer to mentor, assist or teach another, and you’ll see your self-confidence grow automatically in the process.

Care for yourself.
“Self-care is never a selfish act –it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” — Parker Palmer
Self-confidence depends on a combination of good physical health, emotional health and social health. It is hard to feel good about yourself if you hate your physique or constantly have low energy.
Make time to cultivate great exercise, nutrition and sleep habits. Dress the way you want to feel; remember the saying “clothes make the person.” Build your self-confidence by making the effort to look after your own needs.

Create personal boundaries.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”— Harvey Fierstein
Learn to say no. Teach others to respect your personal boundaries. If necessary, take classes on how to be more assertive and learn to ask for what you want. The more control and say that you have over your own life, the greater will be your self-confidence.

Shift to an equality mentality.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” — Marilyn Monroe
People with low self-confidence see others as better or more deserving than themselves. Instead of carrying this perception, see yourself as being equal to everyone. They are no better or more deserving than you. Make a mental shift to an equality mentality and you will automatically see an improvement in your self-confidence.

Adapted from an article by Chris W. Dunn in Entrepreneur online magazine

Expectations

I Didn’t Expect THAT To Happen!

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about EXPECTATIONS:
In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belieft that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected, it is a surprise.

What Did You Expect?

You embarked upon 2019 with certain thoughts in mind … things you wanted to see happen for you when it comes to your health, wellness, and life. We all look at a new year as another opportunity to start fresh and get the job done right this time. Now that we’re into the second month of 2019, maybe you’d like to revisit the things you want to see for this year and determine what is realistic and what could be reshaped into something that could work for you.

You see, when you have expectations that are unrealistic, whether your own or those of others in your life, when they’re not met you will likely find yourself disappointed. How many of you remember hearing someone of importance to you tell you they’re disappointed in you? Why? Because they had an expectation and you failed to meet it. Or, maybe you’ve had great expectations for yourself and didn’t achieve what you wanted to achieve within the timeframe you’d allotted. How did you feel about yourself?

Expectations Can Lead to Disappointment

When we’re disappointed in ourselves or someone else, our speech changes. It becomes more negative and discouraging. A person who lives with the emotion of disappointment on a regular basis soon finds their sense of themselves begins to wither and change.

This is readily seen in children who are reminded by a parent or teacher with high expectations that the child has missed the mark, one more time. Adults who are constantly under fire to meet expectations, like children, develop performance anxiety. This, unfortunately, isn’t the end of the road though.

Constant Disappointment Can Lead to Poor Self-Esteem

Constant disappointment can, over time, lead to poor self-esteem. Do you struggle with feelings of low self-worth, poor self-image, lack of self-esteem, and no self-love or respect? I encourage you to check out your expectations of yourself and what you’ve allowed to be placed on you from others. Are they healthy expectations? Are they realistic?

You’re probably asking if all expectations lead one down a dark and disappointing path. The answer, of course, is NO. Not all expectations end poorly. There are some really healthy expectations you can create for yourself that will support success and a sense of accomplishment and value in your life.

Setting Good Expectations for Yourself

Many years ago I heard someone say, “You don’t have a right to expect that from me.” I couldn’t tell you now what “that” was, but those words have stayed with me until this day. It’s an interesting concept to ponder.

Here are some thoughts to help you with setting realistic and healthy expectations for yourself.

Are you asking for too much too soon?
Are the expectations clear for you? Can you articulate them clearly for yourself?
Do you know where you need expectations?
Are you putting pressure on someone to perform according to your rules?

When embarking upon a fitness program or making changes nutritionally, do you expect to wake up one morning soon after you begin with the body you dreamed of when you were much younger? Don’t laugh. Many people do. Is it realistic to expect that? Your sensible mind would laugh and say, Of course not. But …

What do you expect?

TV

My Challenge For You – 2019

We’re already half-way through January but I want to issue a challenge for 2019, and here it is:

Implement one of the following changes into your life and see what a difference it makes to the quality of life you have.  I’m thinking your life will be better for it.

Get Rid of Your TV

I can hear you laughing, but trust me on this, okay?  We don’t have a television in our home, although we occasionally watch Netflix on the computer, but it isn’t a nightly routine.  I refuse to have a television in my living room.  Here are some of the benefits:

You don’t have to arrange your furniture around the TV and your “feng shui” will be quieter and more pleasant, allowing for a flow of conversation and peace.  It stimulates human interaction instead of everyone sitting side-by-side staring at a screen.  It also makes for a happier environment …

There have been a few studies done over the years that indicate that unhappy people watch more TV, and in turn yield no positive gain.  I’ve included a link here for you to check out:

New Research. Does Watching TV Make Us Unhappy?

While watching TV doesn’t actively make you unhappy, it causes you to go emotionally stagnant, which is probably worse.  So, give it a try … even if it’s only for a month.  You can always go back to it if you feel that TV made you feel happier.

Go to Bed Before 9

Sleep is KEY! Even if you have too much to get finished before bed, getting there by 9:00 will affect you in the following ways:

You’ll wake up feeling fresh… energized… and ready to tackle the day! This way you can get everything you need to get done actually accomplished.  I realize and appreciate that sometimes you just want to stay awake until whatever hour it happens to be just to get things done, or to hang out because you’re just not tired yet.  But…

That just feeds back into a negative loop of less sleep… less energy… less productivity… and more anxiety!

So, why be in bed by 9?  Several reasons, the first of which being that you likely won’t go directly to sleep at the stroke of 9, you’ll need some time to wind down a bit.  If you’re in bed by 9 you’ll have, at the very least, 7.5 hours of sleep, which is optimal for anyone (and that’s if you wake up at 4:30 am).  You could use this time to your advantage to help you get a powerful jump start on your day.

Try going to bed by 9 and you’ll see how much better you feel and how much more you’ll get done because of it!

Stretch at Night

Try making it a habit to stretch at night after you’ve gotten things done and before you head to bed.  You’ll be amazed at what a few minutes of stretching can do for your body and your state of mind.  Not only does it help get the kinks of the day out, it helps to keep you limber, loose, and calm.  Besides that, you’ll save money on massages and chiropractic appointments.

Don’t know what to do?  Check out some easy and pleasant stretches for before bed by searching Google for Before Bed Stretches.  There are a number of routines ranging in time from five minutes to half an hour.  Choose a series that works best for you and s-t-r-e-t-c-h out.  Your body will thank you and you’ll sleep better.

Hire a Coach

I have a client who discovered fitness last year as a result of our work together and has determined to become their fittest possible.  This client has gone on to become a super-swimmer, will be running a 5K in a few weeks and works out faithfully with weights in the gym five days a week.  How?  By hiring coaches to get to the next level.  (btw, this person still works with me, too).

Is it worth the investment?  I think they’d yell out a resounding YES.  We all need support and accountability and that’s what coaches provide.

Please give one of these challenges a try and you will definitely see the difference it makes to your life.

Contact me with your questions about nutrition and diet; exercise and movement; personal growth and life issues.  I’m here for you and remember that often, simply talking out your issues goes a long way to making the life changes you’re hungry to have.

Let’s Talk. 

Before All Else, BE GRATEFUL

Before All Else, BE GRATEFUL

This is the time of year when we are provided with holidays that remind us of the good things in life. It’s also the time when we tend to focus more on being grateful – that is once the shopping, cooking and baking are behind us. Read on to learn how being grateful is a great way to stay healthy.

Gratefulness is an Emotion

If I were to ask you to list some powerful emotions you’d likely write fear, love, hate, happy, or sad (and probably a lot more). However, there’s one emotion that is like a magic wand in many ways and is often overlooked … it’s Gratitude.
Most people are focused on lack instead of on the abundance they actually enjoy, if they’d take the time to acknowledge it. For instance, people focus on the 20 pounds they have yet to lose, the lack of money, the car that needs to be replaced and countless other areas of lack. As a close friend of mine used to say, “Just STOP”, and let’s do a bit of reframing.
Do you turn on the tap in your kitchen and clean water flows out? Do you have enough blankets on your bed to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night? How about eyes that can see the beauty of nature all around you? Are you reading this on a computer or on your SmartPhone? We have so much to be grateful for … acknowledge how good you really have it and say Thank You.

So Many Benefits of Gratefulness

By embracing a practice of gratitude you’ll soon feel the beneficial effects in many areas of your life. It’s been found to improve psychological health by reducing toxic emotions like envy and regret. When it comes to physical health, grateful people have been found to have fewer aches and pains and take better care of themselves in general. When medical science started looking into the key attributes present in centenarians (people who live over l00 years), they found these people were very adept at expressing gratitude.

Gratitude is also linked to better sleep, with both better sleep quality and duration being linked to a grateful attitude. This same outlook has been linked to higher levels of self-esteem and it can also help us make new friends: Thanking an acquaintance encourages them to pursue an ongoing relationship with you, as it sends the signal that there is potential for a high-quality relationship to be formed.

Form a Gratitude Practice

It’s clear there are multiple benefits to be had from incorporating a regular gratitude practice into your wellness routine. Yes, gratitude is part of being healthy and fit. I advise my clients to write down a few things every day in a journal designated specifically for the subject. Silently (or audibly) acknowledging things you’re grateful for on your commute or taking a moment at the dinner table to say something you are thankful for out loud—all of these acts open up your mind and body to feel their best.

Don’t Misunderstand …

Don’t get me wrong: being in a state of gratitude all the time does not mean you’re grateful for everything – that’s just impossible.

It does mean that you’re constantly connected to all the blessings in your life and you’re always able to find the lesson and positive side to every situation or outcome. How would that be different from the way you’re “doing life” at present?

Mastering this state of mind is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

So let the holidays be a time to practice gratitude and strengthen its role in your life, but be sure to keep up the practice even after the celebrations are over to support your best health.