Are You Ready to Live Your Vision in the New Year?

It’s definitely been an interesting holiday season so far. It’s been filled with many firsts for me: The first time we’ve gotten more than 2″ of snow on the ground, the first white Christmas in years, the first time my husband and I spent Christmas without the big extended family, and the first time I’ve felt prepared to go into the new year.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting as often as I normally do. Yes, the holidays have been a major culprit (who isn’t busy this time of year?), but I’ve also been spending a lot of time getting ready for 2009.

Many people view the New Year as an opportunity to start over. Like my husband, I’m not a believer in New Years Resolutions, but I do believe in going into the New Year with a clean slate, setting the stage to enable your success in 2009. That obviously means different things to different people.

To me, that has meant cleaning the clutter out of my condo, cleaning out my email inbox, reading up on certain career and self development topics, and even getting a hair cut, buying a new workout outfit, and of course setting my goals for 2009.

The New Year presents a perfect opportunity to start anew. With only two days left until 2009, what can you do to make sure you enter the new year with a clean slate? Let go of some of the baggage you’ve been holding onto this past year so that on January 1st, you’re ready to live the life you want to live in 2009. 

I started by asking myself, what is my vision for my life in 2009?  Then I looked at my current situation and identified what can be done RIGHT NOW to support that vision.  I also identified what has been pulling me away from that vision (or what have I been wanting to change or get rid of) that I can deal with RIGHT NOW.

  • Does your vision include a clean home?  Clean out that clutter NOW!
  • Does your vision include a more organized professional life?  Clean out your inbox NOW!
  • Does your vision include rekindling a relationship with a long, lost friend?  Give them a call NOW!
  • Does your vision include establishing a second source of income?  Draw up a plan NOW!
  • Does your vision include advancing your career?  Register for that training class NOW!
  • Does your vision include regular prayer or meditation?  Buy the meditation CDs NOW!
  • Does your vision include a healthy, strong body?  Buy the gym membership NOW!

See, a lot of people wait around, sitting on their thumbs until January 1st, thinking, “I’ll take action as soon as the New Year hits.”  I think that’s backwards.  When the clock changes from 11:59PM in 2008 to 12:00AM in 2009, that transformation should already be underway so you start 2009 with a clean slate.  All the baggage, all the regrets, all the bad habits from your old life are left behind in 2008.  Start it NOW, so on January 1st, you’re well on your way to living your vision.

Here’s to health, prosperity, wealth, and happiness to you and your loved ones in 2009!

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10 Ways to Stop the Snowed-In, Boredom-Driven Food Cravings

The snow has been falling outside for almost four days now, and looks like it might not let up for another couple more. This doesn’t happen where I live. Where I live, we get 1″ of snow and the entire city shuts down because of all the hills, the city’s inability to keep the roads cleared, and because this just doesn’t happen often enough so very few of us know how to drive in it.

Ah, gotta love Seattle.

Usually when it snows, it comes down for a day, and then takes a day or two to completely melt and start raining again. Not so much this time. This time we have at least 6″ on the ground, more in other parts of the city, and more to come tonight.

So, I’ve been stuck at home because my car can’t make it up the steep, unplowed hill that must be conquered in order to get out of my condo complex. I know many who, like me, are stuck at home because the hill they live on has been closed to through traffic. Just check out a couple buses that stupidly decided to go down an icy hill that ended on an overhang over a major interstate highway.

Anyway, I digress from my main topic of interest. With all this snow and being stuck at home, it’s super easy to get bored. How many books can one read, and how many movies can one sit through before going batty? Many people resort to eating. It’s a carnal instinct. Your hands want to move – move towards a bag of chips or cookies. And for some reason when you’re bored, your brain, along with your taste buds, start thinking about the bucket of ice cream that’s stashed away in the freezer.

The first step to conquering this kind of eating is awareness. Being aware is half the battle. The next step is making sure your cupboards are stocked with only healthy snacks. Then, if you find yourself yearning to reach for a snack just because you’re bored, have a back-up plan. Have a list of other things you can do to take your mind of it.

So without further ado, here is a list of things you can do to take your mind off your boredom-driven food cravings when you’re stuck at home:

  1. Clean! This is what I’m all about right now. Clean the clutter out of your house – it not only keeps you moving, but it energizes your environment and may help you get out of the sluggish mood you’ve been in.
  2. Go for a walk. Even more fun when it’s in the snow. My husband and I walked down to the grocery store twice today, and even built a couple snowmen outside.
  3. Chase your dog (or kids) around the back yard (or around the house as I did today). Pets are great at killing boredom, especially when you have a crazy one like mine. (Kids too! :))
  4. Make some healthy snack bars from scratch. Okay, I know this one seems kind of backwards because you’ll just want to eat the snack afterwards, but at least it’ll be a healthy snack, and by the time you’re done, it’ll be time for you to eat anyway!
  5. Dance! Like no one’s watching. It’s good for your spirit and keeps you moving!
  6. Do a quick circuit. If you haven’t worked out yet today, you may as well get it in now!
  7. Drink water. Sometimes when you have the munchies, you’re actually just thirsty. Try drinking some water and see if that suppresses your cravings.
  8. Start journaling. Give your hands and mind something to do. And, if you’ve found yourself emotionally eating lately, journaling might give you some insight into why. Journaling not only helps you practice your writing, but it also reduces stress levels, enhances your creativity, and is a tool for personal growth and awareness.
  9. Go play in the snow! A Calvin & Hobbes snow scultpure, snow angels, or a snowball fight will do nicely.
  10. __________<< Insert activity here. Okay, okay. I know you’re probably thinking this last one is a cop-out. But really, it’s about doing something that you become so engrossed in, you stop thinking about your case of the munchies. What simple hobby have you always wanted to take up? Is there a closet in your house that you’ve been meaning to clean out? How can you spend quality time with your significant other and/or kids without including some kind of eating activity? You get the idea.

So next time you get the urge to snack for no reason, 1) acknowledge what’s happening, 2) step away from the pantry, and 3) do something else!

Happy Snow Days!

Need a Pick-Me-Up? Try Energizing Your Environment

Wow, I haven’t worked out in a week. And it hasn’t been on purpose either, i.e. I didn’t have a scheduled break in my routine. I’ve just found myself being uninspired and quite blatantly lazy.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in that mode? The weather outside is depressing, it’s pitch black when you wake up in the morning, and you’re so busy that when your day is over all you want to do is crash on the couch and veg out in front of your favorite TV show?

That’s me right now, and I hate that I’ve gotten that way. Something happened, and all of a sudden, my motivation switch just turned off.

So I was on the couch watching an episode of Sex and the City – although an entertaining show, quite useless to tell you the truth – I took a step outside myself and looked at what I was doing. Yuck. I didn’t like what I was looking at. Because I knew I’m much, much more than that.

So I asked myself, why and how did I get this way? Then I took a look around my home. It was a mess. My laptop and papers were strewn about on the dining room table, mixed with random junk like CDs, a camera, and a mess of wires from random electronic chargers. Dishes were piled up in the sink. Shoes were littering the entry way, and a pile of wrinkled laundry taunted me from atop my unmade bed.

Double-yuck. I hope none of your abodes looked like mine did.

I realized my surroundings were draining me. My husband noticed it too. We’ve both been so busy, we’d let our home drift down our priority list. We’d eat dinner, pile the dishes in the sink and say, “I’ll get to that later,” only to find that “later” was two days later.

My mother would be so proud.

Think about this: You get up in the morning, and it’s dark outside. Your room is pitch black and freezing cold. You get out of bed and step into your living, and one of the first things you see is a disarray of mail you said you’d sort through yesterday. You go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, and your toiletries are scattered all over your counter. Or you get home from work, tired after a long day, and you walk into a house that is in shambles.

Doesn’t sound very energizing, does it?

What’s my point? Sometimes you have to look not only at yourself, but your surroundings to figure out why you’re feeling a certain way. Your environment has quite a significant impact on your levels of energy. Do you have an uninspiring picture hanging in your bedroom? Believe it or not, opening your eyes and looking at an inspiring picture or an uninspiring picture first thing in the morning can effect how you approach the beginning of your day.

When I see something that doesn’t move me or inspire me to get moving, I’m much less likely to move.

Make your environment an enabler for you to live the life you want to live – and that applies to the physical, mental, relational, spiritual, and financial areas of life. Your level of energy directly affects how much attention and effort you are able to apply to those areas and what you want to do with your life – working out included.

So, whether that means cleaning up the mess in your house, hanging an inspiring painting in your bedroom, buying a plant to bring life to your office, getting one of those natural light lamps to wake up to in the morning, or waking up to upbeat music rather than an annoying buzzer, do what you need to do to energize your environment.

All of the above are in my plan. Take a look around you. Do you need a plan too?

What’s the number for the gym? I’m calling in sick!

I’m a fairly healthy person.  I eat well (usually), I take my multi, I drink my superfood antioxidant drink, I exercise, and I meditate regularly.  I don’t get sick very often.  But last week, it happened – I got taken hostage by a head cold.

When I do get sick, I get really wimpy.  I stay home from work, I eat chicken  noodle soup, I drink gallons of echinacea tea, and I sleep to the humming sounds of my lovely humidifier. 

So when it comes to the daily dilemma, “Should I work out?”, I usually give that an “Ummm, I don’t think so!”  How could I possibly think about putting forth any physical exertion when I have to blow my nose every 3 minutes?  Oh no, I must get some rest.

Funny thing is, I usually feel worse after lying in bed all day versus when I’m up and around doing stuff.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m taking my mind off how miserable I feel, or if getting the juices flowing actually does help.  It’s probably a combination of the two.

My husband used to be the ultimate in whining like a baby while he’s sick.  I have to give him credit for being much better at that now though.  So I recently asked him if it’s okay to work out when you’re sick. 

When I asked him this, I almost cringed as I waited for the answer because I knew if I didn’t get the answer I wanted, I wouldn’t have an excuse anymore for being lazy and sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself.

His answer was basically “it depends.”

“It depends on what?”  I asked. 

“If it’s just a cold, it should be fine.  There’s tons of information on that.  You should look it up,” he said.

Great, he’s doing this whole “you would do yourself well by researching this topic yourself” thing, I thought to myself.  I guess I’ll learn something.

Okay, okay.  So I looked it up myself, and here’s a quick test to determine if you should work out while you’re sick.  Ask yourself the following question:

Are my symptoms above or below the neck?

  • If it’s above the neck – runny/stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat – it’s okay to do a moderate workout.
  • If it’s below the neck – chest congestion, upset stomach, fever, body aches/chills, cough – you should take a temporary hiatus from the gym.

Dammit.  That means I should have gotten in a moderate workout at home last week while I had my cold.  (I still think it’s good I stayed away from the gym, otherwise I would have been spreading the love by sneezing all over the equipment.) 

Even if it’s a brisk walk or doing a quick circuit to some fun music, moving around will get your circulation going, lift your spirits, and might help clear up some of the congestion.

As all the experts say, however, listen to your body.  If you start hacking up a lung or sneezing like one of Snow White’s roommates, turn it down a notch and take it easy.  But make sure you’re being honest with yourself and not just making excuses.  Drink more water than you normally do, and get plenty of sleep. 

And I highly recommend a cup of hot tea, a warm blanket, and a Friends marathon.  Laughter is a great cure for the winter cold blues.

Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01097
http://www.ehow.com/how_6950_exercise-sick.html
http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/should-i-exercise-while-sick/e75e72e50d803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/fitness/fitness.coaches/chris.freytag/

When Life Hits You Hard, Keep Moving Forward

I’m stealing this from one of the blogs I follow, MOVEment fitness+performance (Hope you don’t mind, Emily!), but I just have to share this clip as well. 

Yes, good advice can actually come from Hollywood.  Here Rocky Balboa expresses the idea of personal accountability and perseverance quite passionately.

Hits are life’s way of teaching us a valuable lesson.  It’s about how you can take those hits, learn from them, and keep moving forward.  Cowards point fingers and place blame on other people for their current results (or lack thereof).  That ain’t you.  Always remember you’re better than that.

Eating in a Pickle: What to do when you’re eating out

Well, I’m back from New York, and I had a grand time!  The City that Never Sleeps is definitely filled with some great energy! 

So back to the topic at hand – Eating in a Pickle.  In my last post, I discussed Scenario #1: You need something quick to eat.  I talked about keeping emergency food stashed in your freezer and choosing healthy “fast food.”  Now let’s talk about Scenario #2.

SCENARIO #2:

You’re out to eat with a client, colleague, or friend, and you want more than just a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  What do you do?

As I’ve said before, food has an amazing way of bringing people together, so usually when I spend time with friends and family, there’s some form of eating involved.  And suffice it to say, when you’re entertaining co-workers or a client, wining and dining is usually in order.  So how bad would it look if you brought a Tupperware of salad into the restaurant (you’d probably get kicked out) or if you ordered nothing but a green salad while your client ordered the 24-ounce New York steak with mashed potatoes, a pint of beer, and the chocolate-lovers cake for dessert?

You have to survive in the social world of eating without completely compromising your nutritional values.  Contrary to popular belief, it’s not impossible to do.  There’s usually something on the menu that you can eat without feeling completely guilty or freaked out afterwards.  Sometimes it might take some special requests to the waiter to adjust, but it’s doable.

So let’s start with my usual guidelines when choosing menu items.  These are actually the same guidelines I discussed in my last post.  Same idea here:

  • The meal must include some kind of lean protein and fibrous carb (fruits and vegetables).  If it includes a starchy carb, it must be either made from whole grains or there shouldn’t be too much of it. 
  • Nothing fried
  • No creamy or cheesy sauces, minimal butter and cheese
  • Stay away from anything that’s likely to include MSG, be overloaded with sodium, or use plenty of artificial ingredients.

Sometimes you have to ask the waiter to modify things for you.  Usually they’re pretty open to doing that.  Here are some other rules of thumb I follow, some of which sometimes require special requests:

  • Ask for salad dressing and sauces on the side
  • Always order the vinaigrettes (skip the ranch, thousand island, and blue cheese)
  • Make sure to ask for whole wheat toast and order it dry
  • Always pass on the sour cream
  • Order the side salad instead of the fries
  • Always order the non-cream-based soups (broth-based are better – chicken noodle, garden vegetable, etc.)
  • Just say “no” to any pastas with cream-based sauces – pastas tossed with pesto, tomato sauce, or EVOO are better
  • Always hold the mayo
  • Ask for brown rice
  • Always order water (never soft drinks or sweetened teas)

So, here are some restaurants you might find me at, and what I usually choose to order (when I’m not using my 10% cheat meals):

  • Subway – 6” Turkey sandwich on wheat with all the veggies, pepperjack cheese, and a touch of dijon mustard (280 calories, 4.5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 46g carbs, 5g fiber, 18g protein)
  • McDonald’s (yes, when I’m in a pickle, you might find me here) – Asian salad with grilled chicken.  I usually only use about 1/4 of the packet of dressing (300 calories, 10g fat, 1g saturated fat, 23g carbs, 5g fiber, 32g protein)
  • Starbucks – Tall Americano with a touch of cream and a 1/2 packet of Sugar in the Raw, Perfect Oatmeal with dried fruit and walnuts (ask if they can put some of their vanilla protein powder in your oatmeal)
  • Red Robin – Grilled turkey burger, hold the mayo, order a side salad instead of fries (512 calories, 22g fat, 51g carbs, 3g fiber, 29g protein)
  • Panera – Half Orchard Harvest Salad with Chicken + Cup of Lowfat Chicken Noodle Soup (370 calories, 18g fat, 4g saturated fat, 32g carbs, 4g fiber, 23g protein)

And here are some local restaurants you might find me at if you’re in the Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland/Seattle area:

  • Taphouse Grill, Bellevue/Seattle – Seared Ahi Salad (dressing on the side) or Peppered Ahi Tuna Sandwhich, very light on the wasabi aioli, with the coleslaw or side salad instead of fries
  • SushiMe, Bellevue – any fresh sushi, go easy on the fried varieties
  • Pho Hoa, all around the greater Seattle area – Pho Tai (noodle soup with eye round steak) or the variety with chicken, or Bun Ga Nuong (grilled chicken with vermicelli noodles and vegetables)
  • Village Cafe, Redmond – Half order of the Popeye Omelet, substitute the hashbrowns with fruit cup, and if I must have pancakes, I order the buckwheat variety and dip it in the syrup rather than drench it with syrup…and I never butter my pancakes
  • Cactus, Kirkland/Alki/Madison – Sonoran Spa Chicken

Hopefully that gives you some ideas.  As with the last post, when you’re in a pickle, you never know what exactly is in the food you’re ordering.  Just do the best you can to make wise choices, and don’t be afraid to ask for modifications.  Just because you’ve made a choice to eat well doesn’t mean you have to give up your social life or your career.

30 Blocks? No Problem.

Hi all,  I know it’s been a few days since I’ve posted.  And I promise I’ll post Part 2 of my “Eating in a Pickle” series this weekend.  I haven’t posted because I’ve been too busy gallavanting around New York City!  So I’m a West Coast girl, and I’d say a city girl (farms and forests are quite foreign to me even though I live very close to both), but this is my first time to this great city called the Big Apple.

And what a city it is!  I’m only here for a few days for work, and although I unfortunately have to sit in a classroom all day, I fortunately get to play at night.  I experienced Times Square, Central Park, Macy’s holiday window displays, Radio City Music Hall, NBC, Carnegie Hall etc. all in one walk! 

My friend told me that you can walk 30 blocks in Manhattan, and it feels like nothing.  She was surely right because I literally walked from Macy’s on 34th all the way up to 67th in the Upper West Side, and looped around quite a bit.  And it really felt like nothing.  Although we did take a break to marvel at the crowds of people surrounding Rockefellar Plaza due to the tree lighting tonight.  Talk about crazy!

So anyway, I got a nice, brisk walk in today for some physical activity after sitting on my you-know-what all day in a hot classroom with no windows.  My nutrition while I’ve been here hasn’t been bad.  I’m technically not on vacation, so I can’t throw out all my rules of thumb out the window.  Tuna steak and greens and a yummy hot tea called “Once Upon a Tea” (red rooibos tea with dark chocolate, vanilla, and mint hints) at a cute little joint in Tribeca.  But sometime this week, I do need to utilize my 10% cheat rule and try a famous slice of NY pizza. 🙂

Anyway, cheers, and I’ll post Part 2 of “Eating in a Pickle” when I get home.  Ciao!