Successful Meal Planning

Meal Planning is definitely one of those essential, life basics that was left out of public school curriculum. People, in general, have no idea what they should be eating, what’s in what they are eating, and how to plan for their meals. The food we consume has become more of impulse decision-making, rather than careful planning and preparation. No wonder we are more likely to hit a drive-through.

Self-admittedly food consumes many of my thoughts. Am I hungry? What should I eat next? What have I already had today? What am I craving? When is the next meal? By taking a little bit of prep time to plan meals, I eliminate time, mental energy, money, and calories!

Here are a five easy steps to successful meal planning:

  1. Look at your calendar for the week and determine when you will have time to cook and when you will need something quick and easy. Plan dinner first and begin to plug in those meals. Dinner should consist of a lean protein, a cup of fresh or steamed veggies, and a starch, like a whole grain or sweet potato.
  2. Determine if you will have leftovers for lunch before planning lunch. If not, then plan lunches. Lunch should follow the same rule: a lean protein, a starch (whole grains), and fiber (fruit or veggie).
  3. Snacks: Snacks should be easy and readily available. fruit, edamame, nuts, raw veggies, protein bars, or yogurt are all great snacks.
  4. Breakfast: Keep it easy and balanced, like eggs and oatmeal, nutrition shakes, or a high protein cereal.
  5. Make your grocery list from your meal plan and shop.

What Percentage of Fitness is Mental?

You hear it all of the time… Such and such (Insert high number here) percentage of working out is mental. I would say it all the time: If I can just get myself there, then I will be fine. I did some browsing to see what percentage people really attributed our fitness goals to our mentality. The results were high. Shockingly, high. Most were stated at 80-100%!! Wow! So let me review that- 80-100% of our success in reaching our fitness goals is our mentality? So less than 20% of our hindrance is due to ability? I suppose I would agree with that. We could rationalize probably any excuse in the world.

So why the heck are fitness professionals screaming at you, when that is NOT the way to change our behavior? Why are we constantly teaching methods of mindlessness if we need you to tap into your own head to be successful? Don’t get me wrong; these methods might work temporarily. But the changes will not be lasting.

I have been doing a bit of “market research”. In my research, I have encountered a ton of interesting concepts encouraging me to “check-out” of my workout in order to endure the pain. Hmmm. That doesn’t seem beneficial. It is in this mental check-out that we are more susceptible to injury. It is also here, where we will ignore just how amazing we are! I realize for many people they haven’t learned the difference between these two voices. They haven’t learned to trust their inner voice because someone else is always telling them that they are wrong. You are the professional of You. So, who should you be listening to? Who is going to hold the right answers?

The benefits of a regular mindful practice will teach you how to listen to and validate those voices in your head. It is here, that we are able to have the most satisfying workout. We know that we pushed ourselves; we are satisfied with our progress; and we feel uplifted by our own accomplishment. We trusted our most important trainer.

What percentage of your fitness is mental? Is it time to take the Wellness Challenge?

How to Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness. Being present in the moment. Living with Intention. It all means the same thing. It is simply the answer to all of your questions, worries, and stressors. So simple, yet so complicated. As minute as your breath and as complex and loving the unlovable.  So how do we practice this? Follow these simple steps to get you started.

1. Listen. Listen to your thoughts. Hear what you are saying.

2. Observe. Observe your emotions. Notice physiological responses. Gather observations through your five senses. Observe your judgments. Have the ability to observe without reacting.

3. Focus. Notice when your mind is pulling, pushing, or wandering and gently bring it back.

4. Participate. Respond fluidly. “Observe what is going well and kindly respond, how can I make it better?”

5. Practice doing one thing in the moment.

6. Apply the Seven Pillars.

Applying principles of diet and exercise are simply not enough to a healthy well-being. Mindfulness must be applied to practice patience, non-judgement and full awareness. How do you plan to be more mindful?

A Look at What’s to Come

The end of a year is always a bit nostalgic for people. We usually reflect on the past and see what we didn’t like and look toward the future vowing to make it better. I have had a number of clients tell me recently that 2012 is my year. I would like to encourage a great mindful reflection that I heard in a recent yoga class. The instructor said, “Ask yourself what is good about this moment, and then ask yourself, ‘How can I make it better.'”

Using that principle, I think that one of the best things about 2011, (this year, this moment) was the Wellness Challenge. It was my favorite opportunity to host a complete holistic program on well-being and watch the participants flourish. When I ask how I can make 2012 better, I am thrilled to bring more workshops and programs to you!

2012 starts with not one, but two different Wellness Challenges. There will be a Monday Evening Program, as well as a Wednesday morning option. The Wellness Challenge is filled with goals on achieving and maintaining a total well being, including sleep, diet, exercise, meal planning, mindfulness, healthy communication, and much more. Each week we discuss a new topic, send you away with new goals, and help you with balanced living.  There is great camaraderie, inspiration, and motivation. We face the struggles that will come and move forward! And what would a challenge be without a prize!

The second workshop is Mindfulness in Daily Living. Words cannot express how excited I am for this program. People are always asking me more about mindfulness and I am thrilled to demonstrate how to be more present in your everyday life. This is a six week program on Thursday evenings discussing Mindfulness in diet and exercise, with your work, in your relationships and much more.

Third, we have the Weight loss Challenge (I love a good challenge). For those that need more information on diet and nutrition, or struggle on how to filter all of the info out there, this one is for you! We are going to go into great detail about protein, fiber, carbs, fats, eating out, staying hydrated, planning balanced meals and much, much more. The Weight Loss Challenge is strategically offered on your Friday lunch break, right when we are about to give into to weekend indulgences. We’ll do weight and measurement check-ins each week and the biggest percentage of weight loss, wins a cash pot!

And, last, I am very excited to be partnering with someone who is not only extremely educated on this topic, but who has become a great friend, Brian Foreman. Brian and I will be hosting a one-day professional leadership workshop, aLeader in early February. aLeader is all about becoming an authentic, affirming, accountable, accepting leader in your personal and professional life. Brian and I are very excited to share a number of blog posts with you over the next eight weeks about leadership. We can’t wait to have you check it out.

You can find more information on all of the programs here.

Testimonials of a Wellness Coach

I am so grateful to be able to do what I do. It has taken me several years to get to be at this place in my career and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I always knew that the essential tools and lessons that I was learning through education, experience, and introspection were missing somewhere in life lessons 101.

Here are a few amazing testimonials and feedback that I have received from individual and group wellness coaching in the last couple of weeks.

“I have lost 11 lbs in 5 weeks. This is unreal. Thank you so much.” ~L.S, 32

“I am going to bed every night before 10:30. It was hard at first but now I am sleeping and rested. I haven’t felt this way in years.” ~ J.L, 39

“I stopped my psychotropic meds. I just don’t need them now and I feel great.” ~G*

“This is why everyone needs a coach. Women need to hear that it is ok to stop beating themselves up!” ~H.T, 35

“It is hard to balance your weight loss goals with your goals to go out and meet people, but I am doing it!” ~L.S, 32

“I have started eating breakfast or having a smoothie and am seeing changes in my mood, energy level, and weight.” ~A.B, 28

“Powered through a 4 mile run. It was a challenge but I finished.” ~E.H, 26

*Not recommended without consulting a physician

Blissful Mind Wellness: Hybrid coming July 2011

First, let me say Thank You! If it wasn’t for your support, love, and words of encouragement, I would’ve thrown in the towel a while ago. Many of you already know about the heartaches that I have had this week from my Labor of Love post. Well, I didn’t share the plan B that I was working on in the short run.

Giving that location has been becoming an issue and even if we find the perfect spot, there is still going to be a bit of turn-around time, I had started to create an interim plan. I figured that if we weren’t able to get into the center this Summer, then I had to do something to take the next step. So, starting July 1 I will be taking space for my therapy practice in downtown Raleigh. I will be in a gorgeous, historic home at 612 W Lane Street, just off of Glenwood South. The great part is that two of the other suites are already occupied by massage therapists, so I know that the integration is meant to be! On top of that, we will be starting up the mindful fitness program. Classes will be held in both, a creative space off-site and either Nash Park or on the lawn of the Capitol. So feel free to join us for one class or to sign up for one of the wellness programs. Keep checking the website and your emails for additional info.

This wouldn’t be possible without Love so thanks for donating some of yours!

A Mindful Workout

I am pretty sure that every person has heard the rumor that exercise is good for us. So is that being mindful? OK, what about those that actually lace up their sneaks, throw on their iPod, and hit the gym? Are they being mindful? No. Not really. They are being cognizant, meaning that they can conceptualize the benefits of exercise and try to incorporate them into their lives. However, when I speak of mindfulness, I speak of something deeper. A practice of mindfulness is being completely in the moment while you are doing it. It is not always easy or possible. It is not always pleasant or relaxing. But that is mindfulness. (Remember the scene in the book/movie Eat, Pray, Love where she gets eaten alive by mosquitoes… that was mindfulness too). So why do we do it? Because we are constantly checked out of our lives. We miss a lot. We miss the good, the bad, and the opportunities for depth. Depth in our relationships, in our workouts, and in our fullest potential.

So let’s apply mindfulness to a workout: Common forms of mindful fitness include yoga and pilates. What makes them mindful? First, they encourage you to actually pay attention to your thoughts and your emotions, notice them, and gently let them go. Our thoughts can be like nagging children: if we don’t notice them then they get more irritating, pulling on our shirt. However, if you acknowledge them, they often can go about their business. Second, it encourages complete integration of your body and breath, creating a flow. Once we have practiced letting our thoughts go (not holding onto them, not perpetuating them, and not pushing them away), we can be more attentive in the moment. How often during your workout do you complain, tell yourself that you can’t do it, or are so zoned out that you are not sure what you just did? When you are attentive to the task at hand then you can give it your all. And you can trust when your body and mind truly say, “not today.” We all have off days. Third, the instruction (if done well) can bring awareness to the benefits of each pose, giving you greater understanding to what you are doing and why.

There are millions of people out there that are not achieving their fitness goals, purely due to mindless workouts. We hate it so much that we need to distract ourselves so fully. We throw on our headphones, watch TV or read books just to become as mindless as possible. We never check in with how we feel, to see if we can go a little further or if we are needing to pull back. If we do have to pull back, then we criticize ourself which leads to lowered motivation. Mindlessness can lead to injury because we are out of tune with our body. We aren’t paying attention to discomfort and what kind of discomfort it is (good or bad). We listen to our head tell us that we’re bored or that we don’t want to keep going.  And, of course, this is not just our habit and consequence in our workouts.

This isn’t to say that crossing off mental checklists or listening to your favorite music during your workout isn’t OK. It can help us get through tough workouts. It can also be very rewarding to have that time to do just that. For those that sincerely dislike exercise, it can help you to do it at all(which is better than not). However, practicing mindfulness in our workout is being connected with your body, thoughts, and emotions that are with each breath and each move. Mindful workouts are not just for pilates, yoga, and outdoor runners. Any workout can be mindful by practicing awareness, in the moment, without judgement.

Your challenge: Ditch the headphones during the next workout, cheerlead yourself, and stay connected to each move in the moment. When your thoughts stray, bring them right back to you.