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Why Do Some People Not Feel Their Age?

“When you reach my age, your body starts falling apart.” Or, “I can’t lose weight and keep it off because I’m not as young as I used to be.” Or, “I can’t sleep like I did when I was younger.” Sound familiar?

Many people sincerely believe that once they reach a certain age, bad things happen to their health no matter what. They blame it on genetics or bad luck or whatever that is beyond their control. So they seek no help. They simply give up.

These folks are usually mistaken. They do not understand how much control they actually have. They are not aware of the power of the mind-body connection. They don’t realize that once they gain self-awareness and become tuned in to how the mind and body work in unison, they can overcome societal myths about aging.

Self-awareness is staying connected to reality. It’s the ability to question your expectations, ideas and assumptions, and having the wherewithal to explore preconceived notions objectively. The goal is to figure out fact from fiction, and to get to the root of fears, questions and doubts about the aging process.

What you will discover once you reach this level of self-awareness is that you have more in your life that you can control than you thought. Such an “aha” moment is exhilarating. You’ll no longer have to accept that getting older is such a terrible thing full of more and more aches and pains until you die; that this is the way life must be. Fact is, each of us is the captain of our own ship, and the fate of our wellbeing is largely in own hands.

It’s amazing to me how many people give up on sustained health and happiness. They do not realize that they can be in control long term without giving up the things and lifestyle they enjoy. The key is to know yourself, why having optimum health is important to you, and then get and maintain it for the rest of your life.

There is no better time that right now to take personal responsibility for your own health, to get yourself enrolled in a proven wellness program and to be unafraid to ask for help and guidance. Don’t you agree?

 

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10 Tips For Making 2018 Your Best Year Yet!

My clients often come to me looking for accountability. They know what they need to do to improve their health but can’t seem to stick to the program. This is not unusual. I remind them that change is not a linear process. It takes time to establish consistency. There are ups and downs but with the right motivation,  you will get there.

So, as the end of 2017 draws to a close, take some time to assess all of the progress you’ve made regarding your health during the past 12 months and make a short list of achievements and disappointments. Then consider the following 10 truths about achieving lasting change:

1. Initially, the change you seek will seem impossible, but nothing is impossible.

2. The best way to not be cowered by fear of the unknown is to step toward more unknowns. Think of a particular skill as a muscle. To achieve the right tone, you establish a schedule, warm it up, work it out and watch it grow.

3. Have a clear vision of what change you seek, why you are seeking it and push forward through uncertainty.

4. Welcome into your life the people who believe in your vision and have the ability to help you attain it. Their support and accountability are what you need until the change you are seeking becomes a new habit.

5. Failure is not an option. Stick to your schedule even though you may stumble from time to time and always follow through.

6. Remind yourself that yes, you can do this, even if you have failed many times before.

7. Surround yourself with positive energy (your thoughts, your relationships, etc.). Think of these things as a magnet because that is exactly what they are.

8. Remember that consistent small steps lead to big gains. The key is to simplify a complicated task into small steps.

9. A rested mind is a productive mind. Sleep well and fully each night. Guard fiercely this valuable, necessary time. It may involve saying no, it may involve a shift in your daily routine, but in so doing, you cultivate a more enjoyable and productive day.

10. Being denied what you desire is often a test to see how sincerely you wish to attain it. Find reassurance in your decision to succeed.

Remember, you have set out on a worthy path. There will be disappointments along the way but they are fleeting. Stay resolute. Stay determined. You will be amazed at what you can do if you stick with your plan, and chances are the goal you seek will be achieved when you aren’t expecting it.

So be ready. The change you seek is possible even if the journey to get there doesn’t always make sense. Become a member of a courageous minority who know change is a journey that reaps huge benefits, not the least of which is contentment

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What Does Stress-Free and Happy Mean to You?

It’s scary to start something new – especially when you are over 50 years old. But that is what I did when I began my health and wellness coaching company, Wellness Beyond Fifty, three years ago. Why health and wellness coaching? Why leave my comfort zone? I’ve done exceptionally well in real estate. Why not open my own real estate company instead?

I had defeated a bout with breast cancer 10 years before, and my real estate sales were booming. Married later in life to a wonderful man who enjoys his work as an editor, writer and grower of fresh vegetables, I had little to complain about. We own our home in Charleston and a lovely farm not too far away. I thrive on helping others, but it was the constant stress of selling houses and the impersonal nature of new technology that wore me down and made want to do something different.

What’s more important to any of us than having an enjoyable, stress-free life? Why has it become so difficult to live one? Our nation is having a serious health-care crisis. Approximately half of U.S. citizens are dealing with chronic illnesses, the complications from which is the nation’s No.1 killer. If I really wanted to help others on a meaningful and lasting level, what would be more important than helping them take control of their health and well-being so they could have wellness beyond fifty.

So ask yourself: “If you don’t know how to achieve and maintain good health, what do you have of any lasting worth?”

I began this journey by going back to college in 2013. I enrolled in one of the nation’s best health-coaching programs at Duke University, passed my oral and written exams and spent the greater part of a year focused on becoming a national board-certified health and wellness coach, which I achieved earlier this year. And here is what it means:

In September 2017, more than 1,100 professional health and wellness coaches passed the nation’s first Health and Wellness Coach Certifying Examination. The National Board provides this certification for Health and Wellness Coaching – collaboration between the National Board of Medical Examiners and the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching.

Health and wellness coaching as a certified profession focuses on the urgent need to increase clients’ engagement in sustained healthy lifestyles that prevent and treat chronic conditions. As the profession has grown, so has variability in the standards of health and wellness coaches working in clinical settings that include universities, employer health plans, private practices and health clubs.To deliver consistent standards for our profession, the consortium joined forces with administrators of physician-licensing examinations in the United States and developed educational and training programs to determine if health and wellness coaches meet national standards by passing a certification exam.

The National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaching is based upon a set of competencies for appropriately developing the coaching relationship, communication techniques, processes for behavior change, health and wellness knowledge, ethics and professional development and more. All practitioners who meet eligibility requirements and pass the examination are designated National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches.

If you have questions about the process, visit the ICHWC website at http://www.ichwc.org or NBME at http://www.nbme.org/hwc/, or contact ICHWC Executive Director Leigh-Ann Webster at (858) 395-5808.

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What Do Turkey and Sleep Have In Common?

Thanksgiving is the holiday when most of us stuff ourselves with turkey, cranberry sauce and pie, and then take a nap. It’s the nap that I’m wondering about here. Is it true that eating turkey induces sleep? Or is it simply eating too much of everything that brings on the z’s?

So I did some research and learned that turkey is loaded with an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan, which the human body needs to build proteins, but can’t make on it’s own. Foods rich in tryptophan also include other poultry, red meats, cheese, yogurt, fish and eggs.

Once L-tryptophan is consumed, the body uses it to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for digestion, healthy skin and nerves, and for producing a remarkable brain chemical called serotonin, which plays a large role in determining one’s mood. Generally speaking, if you have the proper level of serotonin, you will have feelings of wellbeing and relaxation. That’s because serotonin produces melatonin, a hormone that affects your sleep and wake cycles.

But proteins like turkey, chicken and fish, which are high in L-tryptophan, require assistance from foods high in carbohydrates to affect serotonin levels. All it takes is a carbohydrate snack — no more than 30 grams — in combination with the L-tryptophan stored in your body from food you’ve already eaten to give you the biggest boost of serotonin.

Such a carbo-snack could be a couple of Fig Newton’s, or half of a whole-wheat bagel with honey drizzled over it, or a few cups of air-popped popcorn. Take it after you’ve eaten foods high in L-trytophan and right before bed and chances are you will feel relaxed and sleep better.

So if eating turkey isn’t exactly the same as popping a sleeping pill, why the sudden grogginess as soon as the holiday meal has ended? It’s probably because you ate too much. Overeating takes a whole lot of energy for your body to digest. Add that to the fact that you are away from the stress of work and enjoying yourself among family and friends, and you have an excellent recipe for a perfect snooze.

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H2O plus CO2 = ?

Water is an essential nutrient for humans, but not all water is created equal. We have several options, some

healthier than others…So let’s take a closer look at what’s available.

The rumor on the waterfront is carbonation will hurt you, but that’s a bad rap. Carbonation is merely carbon dioxide injected via bubbles into a liquid in order to give it a fizz. Humans emit carbon dioxide from their lungs every time they exhale, so it’s not the CO2 you should worry much about.

But a carbonated soda, including the diet variety, is a different matter. Sodas are typically loaded with sugars or artificial sweeteners that stay in your body after the carbon dioxide is expelled. Everyone should know by now that too much sugar and too much artificial sweetener can wreak havoc on their bodies.

But, hey, listen up. Not all carbonized waters are created equal either. Here’s what you need to know about them, especially during the holiday season when good cheer comes in a variety of ways:

Seltzer water by itself is a healthy choice. It is a carbonated water with a refreshing taste that is safely enhanced by a squeeze of real lemon or lime. But check the labels. Some bottled seltzer water contains added, processed flavors, which might be problematic.

Club soda is carbonated water that has added sodium ingredients, including table salt, sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. The type and amount of sodium additives differ depending on the producer. If you are watching your salt intake, it’s best to say away from club soda.

Tonic water is carbonated water with added sweeteners and, perhaps, other flavors, including quinine. There’s very little difference between drinking tonic water and a typical soda. Tonic water is not the best choice for health-minded individuals because of the added sugar and empty calories.

Mineral water comes from natural springs and contains a variety of minerals, salts, and sulfur compounds. Mineral water is bottled with added carbonation to create a bubbly beverage. Research has shown mineral water to improve both hydration and performance in athletes. It’s considered a healthy, bubbly water alternative, especially with a citrus twist.

Flavored sparkling water is a carbonated beverage and may contain added natural sugars, citric acid, sodium and caffeine. It’s important to read the label on this one to avoid additives you’re trying to avoid. It is a step up from common sodas, but only if the ingredients listed on the label work out in your favor.

Some think that drinking carbonated beverages of any kind can lead to decreased bone health, tooth decay, irritable bowel syndrome and weight gain. Is there any truth to these claims?

According to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, soda drinks reduce bone mineral density compared to other more simple carbonated beverages. It appears the phosphorus ingredient in sodas binds to bone calcium and is excreted through kidneys, causing weaker bones.

Research has debunked the myth that carbonation alone increases calcium loss in bones. The healthy choice for strong bones is to avoid phosphorous sodas and drink clean, bubbly waters instead.

Research has also related tooth decay to carbonated drinks with added sugar and citric acid. We reduce our risk of tooth decay by drinking plain, carbonated water like seltzer. The carbonation process alone is not shown to increase our risk of tooth enamel erosion. But when ingredients like sugar, acids and sodium are added to carbonated waters, it’s a different story. Such additives increase the risk of tooth decay. Note: You might want to avoid club soda for this reason because of the added sodium

Another common thought: Carbonated drinks, including bubbly waters, can cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS affects close to 23 percent of the population, according to the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Studies show carbonated waters are not the cause of IBS but can trigger a flare up on the condition in some people. If you’re sensitive to carbonated beverages and experience stomach upset, it’s a good idea to avoid them.

The idea of carbonated water causing weight gain has also been questioned. Plain bubbly water doesn’t contribute to weight gain. But some sparkling waters include artificial acids, flavors, sodium and sweeteners. Such additives in carbonated beverages contain hidden calories and can contribute to weight gain. Avoid unwanted ingredients by reading labels carefully.

Hydration
As I wrote earlier, plain carbonated water is made bubbly with pressurized carbon dioxide gas. As long as the water is free of additives, it’s just as hydrating as regular water. Also, mineral water with higher calcium and bicarbonate has shown to provide better hydration during strenuous exercise, according to research. But bubbly water can increase bloating, gas, and burping, so drinking it during exercise is a personal preference. Many individuals have increased their water intake because they enjoy the fizzy texture.

Regular Water Replacement?
According to the American Council on Exercise, plain bubbly water can be subbed out for regular water any time during the day. If drinking carbonated water is your preference, feel free to imbibe. But be sure to check the label for unwanted added ingredients. If you want or need it to taste better, add fresh lemon or limes slices. Fresh or frozen berries are good additives too. And don’t forget a sprig of mint.

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8 Simple Tips to Find Happiness

“We are about as happy as we make our minds up to be,” one of my best friends said the other day. It’s a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, who certainly knew a lot about happiness and sadness in his life, but when she said it recently, I could not help but wonder why some people are happy most of the time and others are not?

I appreciated what my girlfriend said. We had carved out some time during the busy holiday season to spend time together and catch up. After all, it is the time of year to be grateful, not only for friends but also for all the other good things that have so generously been given to us. Still, I wonder, why are some people generally happy and content while others find life overwhelming and riddled with problems?

Seems to me, people who are more content are better able to appreciate the simple moments that are built into our everyday routines, which at times, is not so easy considering all the distractions. We are bombarded morning, noon, and night with advertisers, marketers, and well-meaning friends and family because our culture has become obsessed with having more, buying more, seeing more and being more.

Simply being aware of this subtle bombardment makes a world of difference. It allows each of us to stay clear of mindless distractions and be content with what we already have every day of our lives. Fact is, happiness and joy surround us. They are ours simply for the taking.

Here are 8 simple tips on where and how to find contentment:

1. Develop a health routine you enjoy

Yes, as a health coach people hire me to help to them find the secret to good health habits that last so they can look and feel better well beyond fifty. Ideas we often come up with include setting up a meditation routine each morning. Or engaging in a simple exercise regimen. You can chose to move on your own, with a friend or in class with an instructor. Maybe you take a mindful approach to eating: Make grocery shopping an experience to dazzle your taste buds rather than a chore. Explore farmers markets year round. Try new recipes and add some excitement to your cooking routine, knowing you are preparing something healthy for you and others who join you at the table.

2. Say hello to nature

Welcome an orchid into your home. Water your plants. Step outside and feed the birds. Take a walk, stop and appreciate the scenery. Close you eyes, soak up the sun and be thankful.

3. Create an end-of-day, winding-down routine

Designing an evening routine is something you will look forward to as your day comes to an end. This will also ensure that something is within your control no matter how harried the day may have been. And if the day was spectacular, your evening routine becomes an additional bonus of goodness. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simply enjoy your dinner, tidy up the kitchen, read a good book and goto sleep. Perfect!

4. Design opportunities for experiences rather than time to buy more things

Whenever a weekend afternoon presents itself in which a movie will be showing or an art exhibit is opening that I want to see, I plan the afternoon around that experience. Not only do I watch the movie or go to the art exhibit, but also I plan the before and after as a date with myself to just enjoy the outing even more. Maybe afterwards I will bring a journal and head to a local coffee shop (if I go see a matinee), or enjoy a nice lunch by myself before heading to the theater or museum. Recently, when my husband and I were in the N.C. mountains, I went for a short walk and then headed to the local library branch to catch up on emails and read magazines. These magazines were not piled up and unread on my living room table…they were free. Set aside time for interesting experiences, time for relaxation, time to engage, time to enjoy and time to let go of…time.

5. Create and design a welcoming space

This is one I know I need to do but struggle with because my home office has overflowed to my dining room table. Slowly I’m working on organizing my office better, throwing out “stuff” no longer useful or needed and reclaiming my dining room table. My goal is to be greeted with fresh flowers upon walking through the front door, and enjoying an abundance of light filling the room and sitting down at a clean, clutter-free dining room table. Once done, I also plan to keep it that way.

Whether you can curate your entire home or simply a room of your own to always be welcoming, making the effort to do so offers priceless moments of appreciation every day.

6. Do something to let your mind escape

Read a book. Write in your journal. Meditate. Establish a routine that allows your mind to relax or even nap. It’s not only your body that can become exhausted.

7. Make progress on a project, no matter how minimal

Whether it is something as grand as completing a significant task to edge you even closer to your goal, or just adding an idea to your journal to ensure you do not forget the “aha” moment that presented itself during your day, do something that keeps the flames of your dreams burning and your hopes alive.

8. Express love and kindness

In some form or fashion, express love to someone, something or the world in general. Part of the reason I know the importance of this is because I married later in life. I did not have a spouse or children with which to express love with daily so I had to get to know my neighbors, and my friendships are an important part of my life today. I still find myself reaching out to someone whose memory dances across my mind. I simply text or call and say “Hello!”
Try to inhale and exhale love and kindness, and you will be doing yourself and others a great favor.

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How Can Something Healthy Taste Good Too?

With the holidays fast approaching, I’d like to share a couple of healthy recipes. Each is a southern favorite, and these versions are healthy too. I got them several years ago from Southern Living magazine and one in particular is now a Thanksgiving tradition with my family.

Fried Pork Chops With Cream Gravy
8 Servings | Prep: 5 Minutes | Cook: 15 Minutes

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork chops
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
Vegetable cooking spray
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fat-free milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Garnish: coarse ground pepper

Directions
Reserve 2 tablespoons flour, and set aside. Place remaining flour in a shallow dish. Combine Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper. Rub pork chops evenly on both sides with seasoning mixture. Dip pork in buttermilk; dredge in flour. Lightly coat both sides of pork with cooking spray. Cook pork, in batches, in hot oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high

Sweet Potato Casserole
6 servings | Prep: 15 minutes | Bake: 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 medium-size sweet potatoes or 2 (14 ½ ounce) cans mashed sweet potatoes may be substituted
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup egg substitute
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
Vegetable cooking spray
Garnish: 2 tablespoons diced pecans

Directions
Microwave potatoes 1 inch apart on paper towels at HIGH for 12 minutes or until done, turning and rearranging after 5 minutes; cool, peel, and mash. Stir together potatoes and next 7 ingredients; spoon into a shallow 2-quart casserole pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish, if desired.

Are you ready to make some healthy lifestyle changes? We all know nothing changes unless you take action. As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, NBC-HWC, my goal is to help you achieve the lasting results you want while enjoying the things you love. We won’t avoid certain foods or follow strict diets. It’s not about a number on a scale but creating a way of life you love living! Click here to get in touch with me about scheduling a complimentary wellness breakthrough session!

 

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Small Things Matter

I started keeping a gratitude journal when I had a bout with breast cancer 10 years ago. It was a health wake-up call for me on a lot of levels. Journaling allowed me to see the good things that were going on in my life and a way to shift my attention to the more positive things. It was hard to do daily, and still is, because it can be a highly emotional experience. But as I keep at it, I find greater emotional peace and contentment with my life.

How many of you have ever practiced regular gratitude journaling? Are you currently keeping one? If yes, maybe you will learn a few new tips, and for those who have never tried or have tried it and not been able to stick with it, hopefully today’s blog will help you make this a new, lasting, healthy habit.

Gratitude, like most desirable traits, needs to be actively practiced for it to become something we do without thinking. Most of us look at gratitude as an admirable character trait, but practicing daily acts of gratitude can have a big impact on our health and happiness too. These effects become more evident in the practice of keeping a gratitude journal. It only takes a few minutes a day, but the lasting mood boost it gives you can take you from feeling ok to feeling great on a regular basis.

What is a gratitude journal?

Quite simply it is a tool to keep track of the good things in your life. No matter how difficult or hard life can get, there is always something to be grateful for. When you are going through a tough time, it may be hard to find something to be grateful about; however, if you do it, you can pull yourself out of a funk. Writing the good things down in a journal on a regular basis also helps prepare and strengthen you to deal with the difficult challenges in your life when they do pop up.

It’s very simple to start: Simply write or type the things you are grateful for on a regular basis. Some people say daily, but I have found three times a week is plenty. It gives you more of an appreciation, and you don’t take things for granted. You can use a journal or a notebook. If you find it easier to do things digitally, you can use one of the many gratitude apps or even a Word document to write down the good things present in your life. So once you decide how you want to keep your journal and you have it, simply start noticing and noting the things you are grateful for. Examples might be: You got a promotion; you won your tennis match, your morning cup of coffee.

Benefits of a Gratitude Journal

So what have people noticed when they keep a gratitude journal?
It lowers their stress levels by shifting focus away from what is stressing them right now. It can help you feel calmer, especially when you do your gratitude journal at night. It can give you a new perspective on what’s important to you and what you really appreciate in your life. It also helps give you clarity on what you want to have more of in your life and what you can do without. It can help you find out and then focus on what really matters to you. You learn more about yourself and as a result, become more self-aware. It can make you feel accomplished, even if it’s a small accomplishment, and therefore increase your self-esteem. It can make you be more giving and generous to others. Kindness and compassion grow when you give them away. One day when you are down in the dumps, you can read through your gratitude journal to re-adjust your attitude and remember the many good things you have in your life.

So, it appears, gratitude journaling has a lot of potential upsides and no downsides. But how does it differ from keeping a daily planner, diary or notebook?
The main difference is the focus of the action you are taking. For example: A gratitude journal finds things to be grateful for. It focuses on what you are grateful for. A planner plans and organizes you schedule. It focuses on what you need to do. A diary records the events of your day, both good and bad, as you reflect on what happened in your day. A notebook is something you use to take notes for work or class or as a personal development tool, like setting goals. It is for taking notes about present or future events to help you remember important points. Each one has a place in our lives, but they are not interchangeable. Granted, a planner may give you things to look forward to and be grateful for, but chances are there will be some events or responsibilities that you are not so grateful for. A diary focuses on both positive and negative events from your day and not necessarily on what is good and helpful in your life. And of course, a notebook includes things that do not necessarily have any value to you. So gratitude journals really are unique…their only purpose is to help you notice and appreciate the positive things in your life.

Ideas for Your Gratitude Journal

Your gratitude journal is unique to you and your life. It is for your eyes only so you can write anything you feel without worrying what others will think. Here are a few prompts to help you start writing about all of the things you are grateful for:

  1. Write about a person in your life that you are grateful for. For example, your mentor, your mother, your best friend.
  2. What skills or abilities do you have that you are thankful for? For example, if you are a good cook, a good listener or a good tennis player.
  3. How is where you are in your life today different than a year ago, and what positive changes are you thankful for? For example, I’ve learned to slow down, smile and say a kind word to the people I encounter throughout my day.
  4. What hobbies or activities would you miss if you were unable to do them? For example, I am thankful that my legs still allow me to run after 40 years.
  5. What are you taking for granted that you can be thankful for? For example, your phone, your coffee machine, the clean, fresh sheets you slipped into last night on your bed.
  6. What materialistic items are you grateful for? For example, your home or the new Kate Spade handbag you found on sale.
  7. Who has done something this week to help you or make your life easier and how can you thank them? For example, my college intern who posted and sent out my blog this week.
  8. What foods or meals are you most thankful for? For example, the delicious dish you had last night at your favorite restaurant or the tasty, crunchy apple you had at lunch today.
  9. What elements of nature are you grateful for and why? What about living in Charleston are you grateful for? For example, the sunrise on your early morning walk or run. Or the walk you took after work the other day in downtown Charleston.
  10. What part of your morning routine are you thankful for? For example, your morning cup of coffee or waking up without an alarm.
  11. What aspects of your work environment are you thankful for? For example, flexible hours or supportive co-workers.

Plan to write in your gratitude journal at least three nights a week for 15 minutes before bed. Set an alarm reminder and schedule it in your calendar. Keep your gratitude journal by your bed or on your nightstand, so you will see it before going to bed. Writing in it at night helps to put you in a relaxed mood and therefore sleep better. I like to pick a pretty gratitude journal so every time I look at it, it reminds me to be appreciative. Write as many things as you want to, but 3-5 is a good number to aim for each day.

Remember it’s for your eyes only, so it doesn’t have to be “deep.” You can be thankful for your family, a new book or movie you recently enjoyed, or what you ate for breakfast this morning. Don’t just go through the motions, but be conscious about your “attitude of gratitude.” You don’t have to set a minimum number, just celebrate a few things you were grateful for that day. Sometimes if you are struggling to even start, come up with only one thing. Try to focus on people and experiences rather than things. Yes, it’s okay to be thankful for your phone or new pocketbook, but the joy you receive from important relationships and experiences probably impacts you more than a fondness for your things. Try to savor and think about each thing you write down instead of hurrying to write a quick list. Note surprises in your day and the emotional response they generate for you…things you didn’t plan. For example, an old friend you have been thinking about lately reaches out by text or a phone call.

Sometimes a picture conveys what you are feeling better than a sentence or two. Add a picture to your gratitude journal. Decorate it; get creative with it because this can help you stay motivated to use it. Last but not least, give your gratitude journal a chance. Do it for at least a month before you make any judgment about if it’s making you happier and if you are enjoying the process. If you have fun with it, I think you will find you look forward to writing in it. Whether your gratitude journal is something you write in or use on one of the many apps, how you do it is up to you.

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How to Eat Healthy While Having Fun

Even though it’s not really feeling like Fall in South Carolina it’s still football season. And last weekend, like many other South Carolinians, we were invited to a college football game and sat in the President’s Box. A fancy tailgating party, so tospeak.

It was an exciting game…our team won in overtime. But aside from the excitement of the game, I noticed something else…. the food. Our host told us he had recently changed caterers and asked what we thought.
To my dismay, there were only a couple of healthy options: vegetables with ranch dip and a fruit tray with cheese.Just because it’s football season doesn’t mean you must throw out healthy options and pack on the pounds. In fact, there are a lot of things you can do to keep the tailgating and other parties fun and flavorful. Here are some helpful tips from the American Heart Association:

The Meats
No tailgate is complete without a pile of meat on the grill. Just be mindful of which ones you’re firing up. Choose lean or extra-lean beef burgers, and keep the patties to the size of a deck of cards. Or try turkey burgers or salmon burgers, which are tasty and give you the essential omega-3 fatty acids your body needs. If you crave the traditional fried wings, try replacing them with grilled chicken breast strips tossed in a small amount of your favorite sauce.
But selecting the proper meat is not the only healthy choice. Be careful about how you season it. Go easy on the salt, and throw in some chopped onions or extra pepper to spice things up. Choose 100 percent whole-wheat buns or make a lettuce wrap. Or you can cut your burger in half and have just one side of the bun.

The Sides
At many football parties and stadium parking lots, there’s no shortage of chips or fries stacked high with chili, cheese and whatever else you can think of. However, tempting they may be, you can fill up (and feel better later) by nibbling on vegetables throughout the game party. “Load up on the veggies!” said Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and a volunteer for the American Heart Association. “Have vegetables for dipping rather than chips. Serve plenty of salsa and bean-based dips rather than other high-calorie dips.”Skewers are also a fun and flavorful way to snack. Load them up with onions and peppers, or throw some corn on the cob or zucchini on the grill.

The Drinks
Beer and full-calorie sodas are usually plentiful at football parties and games. If drinking alcohol at games, just remember to use moderation.”Try not to overindulge on alcoholic beverages,” Johnson said. “Too much beer, wine or liquor impairs judgment and can cause us to eat more.”If you do get a beer at the game, select one with the least amount of calories and carbohydrates.For those who choose to drink alcohol, the American Heart Association recommends limiting to an average of one to two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. (A drink is one 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.)As far as soda goes, you’ll usually find no-calorie options. Water is the best choice, though, especially at games early in the season where dehydration is a concern. If you want a little more excitement then just plain water, throw in some fresh fruit to give it a refreshing taste. I also like the naturally flavored sparkling waters that are easy to find in grocery stores.

Tailgating Do’s and Don’ts
Choose your sides in moderation. Try to make sure your plate is colorful, with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Drink lots of water. You may be feeling hungry, but you may just be dehydrated, so remember to drink plenty of fluids, especially when it is hot.
Remind yourself to only eat if you are hungry – not just for something to do at the game. It may help to keep track of everything you eat. You don’t necessarily need to write it down but keep a mental tabulation.
And most of all relax, have fun and enjoy being outside with family and friends. By being aware and enjoying the present moment, you will feel better the next day too.

I will be speaking at the FemCity Charleston Around Town Social: Sip n’ Spa on October 19th about “5 surprising secrets to lasting weight loss, even if you have no willpower and hate dieting & exercise.”
If you are interested in attending this event…click here!

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How to Make the Most Out of This Fall

As September ends I can’t say I’m disappointed. It’s the beginning of fall and the end of the hurricane season. And even though some Septembers are calm, this was a year that Mother Nature lashed out with a fury.

Luckily for us here in Charleston, all we suffered was a lot of anxiety and only a little physical damage. But as my thoughts and prayers continue to go out for our friends in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, I began to reflect again on what I have left to do in my life for the remainder of 2017. What do I need to re- focus on? And I start thinking about what I want to accomplish next year …Are there things I need to be doing now to make it happen?

Even though we no longer seem to have four distinct seasons here anymore, we do have the remainder of our lives to look forward to with good health and happiness. Seasons allow us to enjoy a variety of clothes to wear and a bounty of healthy choices at farmer’s markets. They also heighten our appreciation of nature and allow us to savor what is given to us naturally.

We can flourish and blossom in any season if choose to do so. We understand the power of rest, paired with diligent and consistent effort to reach our goals. But what we know and understand to enhance our lives is not always what we do.

Many Americans don’t take annual vacations or even unwind with a long weekend even though they know that doing so is a healthy investment. Others choose the other extreme which is to ignore anything that looks or feels like “work” when it comes to improving their health and quality of life.

There are excellent ways to schedule your hectic and overscheduled lives that allow downtime to balance, unwind and improve your health. First set goals around what you what to achieve, make them measurable and timed. By taking the initiative and following through to your desired goal, it will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment crucial to living a good life.

Take an objective look at your life. Are you stuck in the same routine? Have you scheduled your vacation or even a long weekend getaway? What have you accomplished and enjoyed in the past 12 months? Did you take time to celebrate the things that you achieved?

Give yourself permission to ebb and flow with the seasons, and within each, you’ll find something to savor and enjoy. If you do, you’ll always have something good to look forward to no matter what time of the year.

Need some accountability to help create lasting healthy habits? Let’s talk…

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