Intelligent Ways to Develop A Deeper Sense of Connection and Meaning

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While I enjoy reading, listening and watching experts talk and write about mindfulness and ways to recondition my mind and habits for a deeper sense of connection and meaning in daily life, what I really love doing is developing new habits to making them effective. Taking action for daily improvement. The doing does it for me.

I am bookmarking today’s post to return to as I use it as a reference tool to upgrade my current morning and evening habits and practices to create a more present state awareness which in turn helps me become less reactive and more responsive in life.

1. Listen or read The Most Important Moment by Leo Babauta

Why: I don’t want to discount this moment right now for the one that is coming up soon. No moment is less important than any other in your life. This moment is filled with sounds, tastes, actions and elements that are your life. Just because you are waiting on line somewhere does not make it a useless moment. Make every moment count or you will end up with a pile of wasted moments that end up in the Where did all the time go? landfill at the end of your life.

2. Watch your words – your word choice determines your thought choice which determines your emotions and actions  -inspired from the 21 Day Non-Complaint Challenge 

This is one of the reasons why I am expanding my vocabulary Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Intellectuals: Synonyms, Antonyms, and Related Terms Every Smart Person Should Know How to Use

3. Signed up to join the beta version of It’s Koko which was created as a solution for peer-to-peer mental health – a social network that helps you feel better. Learn more about how Koko works by listening to the Your Not So Smart Podcast interview with Robert Morris developed this brilliant app and next generation crowd-sourced problem solving tool.

Why: Because one day we will be astonished that people actually went to one single therapist to “sort out” their problems, which in my mind is a ridiculous waste of time and not an intelligent way to improvement. Collective reasoning and cognitive reframing reign supreme.

4. Develop a daily practice of Dr. Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness 

Why: I believe this practice is an upgrade to my daily practice of vipassana meditation. It is an active practice that focuses your attention to an inner place of clarity. It takes commitment, but so does everything that changes you for the better. Learn more about the benefits of mindsight from Dr. Daniel Siegel here

5. Practice Poverty – Tim Ferriss has a great 29-minute podcast of how he practices mindfulness including this recommendation from Lucius Annaeus Seneca Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) One of my favorite pieces of advice ever. While it’s not something you have to do every day, try living for a week with the bare minimum. While Seneca advised to sleep on the kitchen floor and drink from the dog’s water bowl and discover that you are okay in the morning, Tim works it in a more civilized way. Wear the same clothes, eat a minimal diet, don’t spend any money, see what you are so afraid of to find out how strong you really are.

Why: I know I have not taken risks having worried about failing.

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6. Stay more focused throughout the day. Download the Chrome extension Momentum and let Google keep you on track so you can concentrate on your goals.

Why: Too many damn distractions. Life on and off the internet is beyond fascinating, but in order to accomplish anything great, we must stay focused.

7. Invest in a 5 Minute Journal exercise each morning (another Ferriss tip) The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day

I have already been writing in a gratitude journal every morning, The Five Minute Journal upgrades the experience by having me consider –

What would make today great? What I am truly grateful for each day? What I dare to challenge myself with that day, etc. Better questions lead to a more thoughtful day.

8. Learn more about the importance of practicing cognitive reframing

Why: Because beating cognitive distortions will help me think more clearly, which will hopefully have me examine my common decision making failings. Cognitive distortions are categories of automatic thinking. Some of them include always being right, blaming, disqualifying the positive, emotional reasoning, fallacy of change, filtering and cognitive biases, jumping to conclusions, labeling and mislabeling, magnification and minimization (catastrophizing), over generalization, personalization, should statements, all-or-nothing thinking, etc.

9. I am currently reading The Art of Thinking Clearly by Robert Dobelli which describes how to counter cognitive distortions with instructive good sense.

Why: Biases are the invisible air we walk through, exerting their influence outside of our conscious awareness. Read more about the dangers of cognitive biases here.

Question for you – what have you found that has made you more mindful? Please share in the comments below.

The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness

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My husband drives me crazy. He never writes anything down. Not a single reminder. Not even a note in his phone. He laughs at all my list making. So what.

The Secret to Achieving Your Goals

Now, I imagine if you are reading this, the headline got you and you are looking to achieve something great. Weight loss? More money? Better relationships? Peace of mind? Whatever you are attempting to get better at, it helps to set goals. Here is the formula I found works for anything I want to achieve and it is a mash up of some of the best advice and tips from experts throughout history on how to go about setting and achieving goals. 

Scientific behavioral studies at Harvard have proven that those who WRITE down their SPECIFIC and ACHIEVABLE goals increase their chances 10 fold.   I add that WRITING and SPEAKING your goals OUT LOUD with emotion each day in the morning (and maybe in the evening too) increases your success even further.

It’s simple, it’s easy and here is how it works.

STEP 1. SET PRECISE and MEASURABLE goals that you are CONFIDENT that you can achieve.

For example: I want to lose five (5) pounds by Thanksgiving, November 25, 2015.

body weight

I found this free Body Weight Planner recommended by Shape Magazine and developed  by the National Institute for Health with the help of Dr. Kevin Hall’s research group for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to better understand how diet and exercise quantitatively contribute to weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

According to this calculator, I’ll achieve this measurable goal if I walk/hike and run at a moderate jogging pace for 60 minutes a day seven (7) days a week consuming no more than 1,955 calories a day. I calculate this is a loss of .75 (3/4) of a pound a week.

STEP 2.WRITE them down on paper (or in your phone) and keep them in CLEAR site. READ the goal OUT LOUD each morning.

Me in the mirror every morning:

I will be 123 pounds by Thanksgiving in 48 days by following these easy steps to achieve this weight. I will practice self-discipline and design my days around achieving this goal. Relentlessly.

STEP 3.BREAK down the goal and REMOVE all obstacles involved in the process of achieving it.

Each Bite Counts

Each day, I commit to counting calories – the LoseIt App is wonderful for this, as is the FitBit calorie tracker. You can also use a note book. Here are 5 great calorie counting sites/apps that you might want to try. I will jot down what I ate or take a photo of what I ate to calculate my calorie intake every day.

What if it’s raining?

How will I make SURE that I get in a 60 minute moderate run/hike each day? What if it rains and I can’t go outside? Will I go to the gym? Do I have a way of doing this at home in the house?  Will I ask a friend to hold me accountable? Will I get it out of the way every morning? What if I am traveling?

Have a PLAN to REMOVE every obstacle.

No more chips. Damn.

I eliminate all refined carbohydrates from my daily meals. No breads, crackers, chips, cookies, etc. I will try to each a very healthy, plant-based meal with protein three (3) times a day and limit by alcohol to 1 glass of white wine. I will consume no more than 1,955 calories a day.

STEP 4.READ your goal OUT LOUD every morning and include HOW you will FEEL when you achieve your GOAL.

Me, in my head all day long:

I will look and feel amazing in my jeans, feel lighter on my feet and freer and more energetic. All that movement will also help me feel less anxious and healthier at 123 lbs.

Inspired by Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance

You can do this four step process with anything you want to achieve, including making new friends, getting a raise, building a business, whatever. The secret is a mindful attention with intention and focus on your goal.

toughness

Visit Jason’s website here

This gem of a book by Napoleon Hill  Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

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And the book that inspired me to lose 25 lbs last year.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

four hour

Dodging Raindrops, Brilliant Podcasts and Rising Above A Toxic Workplace

sitting-posture

Two words, good posture.

Stop. Did you just do what I think you did? Did you just sit up a little straighter?

Next time you walk into the elevator or a big meeting, think about what your posture says about you as you pass through those doors. Then try these exercises for better posture.

It’s early morning, pouring rain, headed to the office in Soho (70 minutes, stuck in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, followed by a soaking 30 minute walk). Rain coming in sideways. I feel like –

sunshine

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Wellness in the Workplace

Now, while big corporate decides whether there’s enough ROI (return on investment) around creating a “corporate wellness” program at your office (read: you healthier in their work camp), organizations are adding things like energy-absorbing flooring and enhanced air and water filtration. That’s all well and good but you must take matters of health into your own hands and back to your cozy cubby.

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Movement + Meditation = My Medication

When there is no time to work out in the morning I walk the five miles to and from work.

Walking at various speeds with intervals of stairs help me stay energized throughout the day and less guilty about not getting to the gym. Except when it rains really hard. Then I’m just like, what was I thinking?

That’s why I have invested in some serious commuter gear – I have provisions -umbrellas, rain coats, knapsacks, rain boots, you name it.

Love these rain boots and my  jacket below from Uniqlo

sperrySperry Top-Sider Women’s Pelican III Rainboot

UnknownTotes Signature SuperDome Auto Open/Close Umbrella, Black, One Size

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Learning on the Go

Podcasts I listen to at the gym and on my warrior walk to work.

  1. The Unmistakable Creative – brilliant interviews with super creative people.
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show – the #1 business podcast on iTunes right now
  3. School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – because he just wants to get better and better and so do I.

Or sometimes I simply walk and meditate. Huh? How do you do that? Well, you breathe and walk and just be aware of the fact that you are breathing and walking. Unless you are like me and want to Instagram every little stupid thing. Then you might want the guidance of a walking meditation app.

Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind.

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Workouts During the Work Day

Not as powerful as sweating it out for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, moving throughout the day gently keeps my body and head in check. Evidently, according to this Forbes contributor, there is something to this fidgeting.

Here’s what I am trying to do every day at work.

  • 10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk on Forbes.com here
  • A full glass of water (8oz) every two hours.
  • A healthy lunch – salad with protein.
  • Two 100 calorie snacks. Almonds or apples. (buy in bulk at Costco).
  • Always take the stairs and go outside every few hours.
  • 1 minute of breathing meditation at my desk on the hour.
  • A moment or two to laugh. Best of Jimmy (Fallon) here
  • Network – spend a little time connecting with others.

waterbottlemarkedwithtimeAre you shy? Want to make friends but feel a bit socially awkward?

Listen to this brilliant Tim Ferriss episode How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time.

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Insanely Useful Weight loss and Training Gear Investments

I’m not necessarily a gear girl because I absolutely believe it’s not the tools, it’s how you use them, however, on the other hand, I truly appreciate great quality when I find it. I wish I would have discovered a complete list of the best of everything when I decided to turn things around.

I have found the following weight-loss and training tools have stood the test of time, lasted way longer than I expected and helped me lose 25 pounds while getting stronger over the past year.

athleta Athleta Be Free Capris and the Relay Capris are both flattering with an awesome fit, even as I lost the weight. Perfect for warmer weather and summer months, even through 95 humid degrees in Florida summer heat.

Under ArmourUnder Armour Women’s Heatgear Capri Pants got me through the frigid temperatures last winter in New York, whether I was up at 5:30 am driving in my jeep to the gym or running to Soul Cycle in Union Square.

Extremely Mindful Eating – guarding Calories In & Out

I truly don’t believe I would have dropped the pounds if it wasn’t for tracking my calories. Now, I’m on my third Fitbit because I lost the first two “zip” models that you clip on your sports bra or pants, so I don’t recommend them at all. I have found that the wrist band stays on and when synced with the app is a truly mindful weight loss tool.

 Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

When I first started wearing my LG Headphones around my neck I got some pretty strange looks, but they have become incredibly popular and since I’m the kind of geek that has practically strangled herself with her earbud wires wrapped around the Elliptical arm, well, these babies are both blue tooth and powerful.

LG Electronics Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headset – Retail Packaging – Black

Supposedly drinking 2 to 3 liters of water a day will speed up your metabolism (read the NCBI study here), but regardless, staying hydrated is critical and also helps fill you up.  I dropped $24.00 on this Ello Glass water bottle at Whole Foods, and like everything else, I found it for much less on Amazon – under $10.00. It’s durable and dishwasher safe. Better for the planet, but also for your body.

 Ello Pure BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Lid, Coral Fizz, 20 oz.

Practicing Mindful Portion Control

I haven’t eaten off a regular size plate since I started enjoying nutrient-dense, high-fiber slow-carb meals. Small plates help keep portion sizes under control.

Boston International Ceramic Appetizer Plates, Nautical Flags, Set of 4

Speaking of fiber, I found Goya Beans, specifically black and small white beans added to every meal (just a few table spoons will do) are just what you need to keep the scale moving in the right direction.

Goya Premium Small White Beans 15.5 oz

It all started with changing the way I ate, which was absolutely mindless and mostly in front of my computer. The diet that changed my life, is The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

He’s the grandfather of self-improvement and performance coaching. Yes Anthony Robbins and yes his book Ultimate Power helped frame my new empowered mindset.


Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement

As fun as they are, do not buy the headbands at Free People or Urban Outfitters. They unravel and slide off, even during Pilates and Yoga and they don’t absorb jack. Try Mava’s instead.


Set of 6/4/2 PCS Multipurpose 12 in 1 Headbands for Athletic and Casual Wear, Highly Comfortable Seamless Bandana, Balaclava, Scarf, Face Mask, Best Moisture Wicking Headband With UV Protection, Suits Both Men & Women, Mava Premium Quality Headwear (Set of 6)

While they became a thing about five years ago, I am still in awe at how comfortable, light weight and long lasting my Nike Free trainers really are.

Nike Free 5.0

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And as the weather turns cooler here in the northeast, I love my Uniqlo down vests and jackets for working out. They are inexpensive, long lasting and wind resistant.

Do you have any workout favorites? Anything to recommend? I’d love to learn what helps you perform.

Mastering Your Mind with Charlie Bradford Part 4

enlightenmentI started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been a little over  a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Some of my personal favorite blogs other than Charlie’s are Zen Habits, Tiny Buddha, Tim Ferris, Jonathan Fields, Tara Brach  and Brendon Burchard.

Do you have any trusted websites and/or resources that you have found helped you expand your mind?

The answer to your 4th Question:

 Outside of books, films, and being in nature, the rest of the resources for expanding my mind, are pretty much self-derived. One of the greatest resources for me right now, is blogging. Most of the thoughts and insights that I’ve had along my journey, remained inside my head and in notepads; written in a very non-linear, incoherent manner. I never knew that I could actually formulate my thoughts into writing, until I started my blog. Just seeing the amount of different people out there with unique view points and means of expression, is enough to expand our sense of what’s possible. So I encourage anyone out there who is yearning to express their thoughts and ideas, to consider starting a blog. You’ll be amazed at how much you grow and develop as a person, just by sharing your thought and ideas with others.

 Another great way of expanding the mind, and attaining a greater sense of personal power, is to become a habit pattern interrupter. Some of my greatest insights have come to me after stepping outside of my comfort zone – always questioning and challenging the way that I do things. The limits of our minds are usually not limits, but stagnant programs operating just below our conscious awareness that keep us in a particular mode of living. Therefore I urge anyone who feels trapped, and lost within the walls of their own life – to take a long break, and examine the significance of your daily routine. Our daily routines should be building us up, not breaking us down. Therefore, this distinction is a reliable indicator in letting us know whether or not we’ve got sub-conscious pressures bubbling beneath the surface. Once we’ve interrupted these habit patterns with our conscious effort, then we begin to untangle the many hidden knots within the sub-conscious mind, and revive that sense of personal freedom, and the trust within ourselves to know that we can change our lives when ever we desire to.

 I’m still on the path of self-discovery myself, and I always will be. I’m forever learning, and forever unfolding. I realize that we are all a work in progress. And I love that. Because no matter which direction we take in life, no matter how many mistakes we all make – we’re all heading toward a greater meaning of life.

 

Superfoods, Supplements and Maintaining Optimum Well-Being

GreensEvery single time I walk into my local health food store I ask myself the same question. If this is a health food store,  why are there so many plastic bottles, amber glass jars and cardboard boxes? Before my eyes, a sea of sameness – multi-vitamins, boxes of daily supplements, packs of protein powders – compared to the very small amount of actual fresh produce. It’s daunting.

I have never taken nutritional supplements, let alone a damn vitamin, partly because I can’t swallow pills. Especially horse- size pills. I also can’t seem to buy in to the whole Ashwagandha to calm the mind  and Huang Qui to support energy and vitality. For some reason I just don’t know if organic Bacopa will help my off-the-chart level of anxiety.

However, with so many new supplements on the market, I have become kind of curious about what might be beneficial. Will drinking these things buy me a few more minutes of life on the planet? Will it be like – well, she lasted to 12:05, thank goodness she drank her greens.

There seems to be so much jargon and “information” about what to take depending on the lifestyle you live. Also, even though I have heard that our vegetables and animal-based protein do not contain the same amount of nutrients they once did, I am a healthy, mindful eater.

What the “experts” take

I attended a special trade event for Sprouts Farmer’s Market this past weekend and had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of store managers from their locations around the south and midwest. I asked two of the vitamin category managers from Sprout’s Los Angeles stores, land of the protein smoothie, what they take on a regular basis and both said they loved Paradise greens.

Paradise Greens2

So I ran to their table and I grabbed a few packets to try at home. Now that I have a moment to open their catalog and visit their website I realize I should have asked  which greens? The Orac Energy Greens? Slimming Greens? Protein & Greens? Oh no.

Now, I know Tim Ferriss, really seems to like Athletic Greens, especially when he misses a meal, so I have decided to compare ingredient profiles.

Wow, this might take a while, as I sip, (wait I am suppose to sip this green protein drink right?) my very first Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Energy Proteins & Greens.

The label alone will take me months to decipher. Please, if any of the nutrition experts out there want to weigh in – I’m all ears. What are the best supplements to take if any (providing one consumes a balanced and healthy diet) and why?

Paradise Protein & Greens

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Athletic Greens

athetlic greens

 

 

Smarter, Stronger, Wiser Workouts

girl,headphone,headphones,music,illustration-27065f4052621ed175246266a0ba660e_hI use to spend over three hours on a Sunday afternoon creating a fresh Spotify music playlist for the weeks to come until one day during an experiment I listened to bunch of Tony Robbins videos (the man is pumped) and a very long interview on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast and said to myself – – myself, you should be learning and training, put those two together and take your workout routine to the next level. It worked. I’m hooked. If you haven’t tried it, you should consider your own experiment.

Listening well

So, I began subscribing to all sorts of podcasts on iTunes. I also had to drown out the yakkers at the gym, so I upgraded my headphones, which don’t get wrapped around the elliptical arm when I’m going hard, because they’re bluetooth and they wrap around my neck.

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Smartest investment for 2015 right here-
LG Electronics Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset – Black HBS-750

img-thing Awesome Podcasts I am listening to right now –

The Tim Ferriss Show. He deconstructs world-class performers from all walks of life, giving you tips, books, wisdom and daily habits to help you excel in whatever you are trying to achieve.

Srinivas Rao’s The Unmistakable Creative dives deep into the stories of authentic and creative achievers.

Tara Brach has a weekly talk on Buddhist teachings. Admittedly, I usually go for long meditative walks when I listen to Tara and then repeat her podcast with my husband on Sunday’s for our one hour meditation ritual together.

Another favorite is The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes. He’s a former pro athlete, humble as hell and great at digging into what makes pros great at what they do.

Note: I usually get so inspired from listening to these amazing people while I am biking, hiking, lifting, etc, that I stop to take notes in Evernote on my phone and sometimes go back and listen to the whole interview all over again at home.

I just listened to Phil Libin @PLibin on the Tim Ferriss show and discovered that as much as I love @evernote I need to discover all of  its potential @evernotehelps

And finally, yet another workout and travel upgrade, the travel hoodie by Baubax.

jacket

Built in neck pillow, gloves and hand warming pockets? Hello people, why didn’t we design this? It’s been the most funded fashion item on Kickstarter ever.

If you listen to podcasts and have favorites you want to tell me about, please do in the comments below. I am always open to learning and growing. Thanks for reading and sharing what you have found to work for you.

a total mind and body transformation

Beans-and-Legumes

Around this time last summer I decided to make some major changes in my life.

I knew the changes had to begin from what I was doing daily and I had to get real honest with myself.  Sitting at my desk, working ten hours or more a day in front of a screen just took a toll on my entire being.

These changes included a new way of eating, exercising, working, living and thinking. Yes a complete mind/body transformation. Ever since, I have been determined and devoted to creating what I call “daily result rituals” and habits to help continue to move me in a healthier and happier direction.

It’s an ongoing quest and I hope to share some of the people, strategies, books, podcasts and other influences that have helped me along the way. My main goal is to be the best version of myself that I can be and to be an inspiration to others.

For starters, I just knew that feeling great about my body would help boost my confidence, so I started with a new way of eating.  I have had tremendous success (read:25 lbs lighter) by following the slow carb diet from Tim Ferriss (check him out on Twitter @tferriss). The slow carb diet involves managing your insulin levels by avoiding grains, fruit and sugar and replacing them with vegetables and legumes.

Now at the same time, I knew that I would benefit from a mental diet, so I followed The 7 Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox. This was more difficult than shedding pounds because more often than not, I lived “behind enemy lines” inside my head and the worry, fear and anxiety was just tremendous. I had to start the mental diet three times before I got through 7 days without obsessive worry.

I also started my own fitness training program, with some serious workouts seven days a week. I did say I’m determined right? More like relentless.

Prepare to blow your mind
The Seven Day Mental Diet: How to Change Your Life in a Week

Read & shed those pounds –
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman