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

grow

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.

offices1

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.

desk

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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Detox Lemonade & a Healthy Salad

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Lunch yesterday near the office in Soho, NYC. I am obsessed with this spicy detox lemonade at Chop’t.

Going to try to whip this up over the weekend and found a few recipes on line. The ingredients seem simple enough – the juice from whole lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Some add sea salt to boost the “flush”.    I know this master cleanse has been around for quite some time and Beyonce brought it back earlier this year, but I never tried it like this at home as an every day drink.

I found three sites that have different recipes, but they all look a little like this –

  • 2 TBSP organic fresh squeezed lemon (do not use canned or frozen or bottled juice)
  • 2 TBSP organic maple syrup
  • 1/10 TSP organic cayenne pepper (I’d probably add more spice)
  • 10 oz medium hot water (cold water may be used if preferred)

Although I am not a big follower of detox anything, this lemonade just tasted delicious.

According to Healthy Crush:

Lemon juice and cayenne pepper both have anti-fungal, immune boosting, and detoxification properties. A great source of information on the benefits of drinking lemon water can be found here in this article.

Lemon juice is great for digestion, destroying bacteria and cleansing the system – it supports the liver and kidneys to get rid of toxins.

Cayenne pepper increases metabolism, stimulates the circulatory system, aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and more.

Two additional recipes at 7 minute and Style Craze

More delicious detox recipes here –
Everyday Detox: 100 Easy Recipes to Remove Toxins, Promote Gut Health, and Lose Weight Naturally

 

detoxinista-cookbook-recipes

Inviting Your Troubles to Tea

buddhaThe night before the Buddha attained final enlightenment he had a visit from the demon king Mara. Mara represented all the anger, doubt, fear, striving, craving and greed of the world. He came to tempt the Buddha.
Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha calmly acknowledged his presence, staying “I see you, Mara
He then invited Mara to tea as an honored guest.
It is suggested that we do the same when we are pained with trouble (whether real or imaginary). When we are feeling jealous, fearful, angry, frustrated, we examine these feelings with a compassionate heart, filled with self-love. We invite troubles to tea.
Instead of running from what troubles us, avoiding what is painful to face while only trying to seek happiness, we need to deal with all of life’s struggles head on, or they will continue to haunt us.
tea settingTea 101
Wake up with Matcha or Peppermint; Sleep with Kava or Chamomile; Ward off a cold with Echinacea or White Tea; Digest with Ginger or Lemon; Detox with Dandelion or Nettle; Soothe an upset stomach with Fennel or Ginger; Energize with Mint or Green; De-stress with Lavender or Ginseng.
tea
 Tea Supplies
 Soma-Water-Pitcher-01Filter your water

Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter

 bonavitaInvest in an electric tea kettle

Bonavita Dual Voltage 0.5L Travel Electric Kettle

My favorite morning tea

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Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox, 16-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)

kenko
KENKO Tea – Matcha Green Tea Powder – USDA Organic – Japanese Culinary Grade Matcha Powder for Lattes Smoothies Baking -100g Bag [50 Servings]

 

compassion A lesson a day from . . .

Teachings of the Buddha (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

Lightening Up, Sparking Joy and Creating Love

heartAs I read many of your blogs I can see that we are on a similar path of questioning our lives, bettering ourselves and pursing our dreams. As I seek to accomplish the same, mine is a three part story and also an endless loop of lightening up, sparking joy and creating love. Creating a life that I love and that inspires the world.

Success So Far

Some of the less exciting details. In the past year I have lost 25 pounds, toned and strengthened my body, spent five to eight hours a day examining my values, thoughts and inner-conflicts while embracing a new lifestyle mindset of mindfulness and minimalism. All with the help of some of the best mentors, teachers, authors and leaders I can find.

laoFilled with Mad Love

Without going through the harrowing details of my personal backstory, the most important thing to know about me (that I think can help you) is that on July 18, 2014 I had had enough. Enough of everything, including –

  • The exhausting “weight of the world” that I thought I held.
  • Managing clients with entitled attitudes and bad business models.
  • Rushing through my days without a moment to breath.
  • Feeling like a worn, torn and tired door mat.
  • Arguing and getting enraged at my family because I didn’t know how to ask for help.
  • Tackling daily task lists that ran the length of a full page of Staple’s copy paper.
  • Trying to play the role of super woman while managing everyone’s mess but my own.

wavesThe monumental motivation factor was raging anger, a deep-seated mammoth-sized storm of anger. Not depression, not a feeling of deflated defeat, no, an exasperated tsunami convulsed with rage.

Change don’t come easy.

I honestly believe it takes that amount of anger, pain and/or strong emotion to push someone out of a rut and/or from the false sense of security that society is trying to sell us to creating and designing a life that you love.

This type of energized and emotional fuel is what takes you from reading your hundredth self-help book filled with life hacks to actually taking action.

picassoWe are what we do

We are not what we think, or what we feel or what we say, we are what we do. Actions do indeed speak louder than words. If you are unhappy with a particular part of your life, take a strong look at what you are doing to be happier.

My Story

Part 1 Lightening Up

Symbolically, I think the added 25 pounds that I gained were due to the heaviness of life, daily strife and stress and uncertainty. I was caught in the spin cycle of success. That compounded with sitting at my desk for 10 hours, eating a mindless lunch and  banging away at the keyboard with only face-to-screen interaction for most of the day that did me in.

My transformation began with

  • Getting up earlier each morning to make the time for me.
  • Changing my habits and designing result rituals – daily, repeated steps towards my success.
  • Remembering to rest, breathe and take a moment to come back to the present.
  • Counting calories while eating low-fat nutrient dense foods.
  • A powerful dose of daily cardio and strength training workouts.
  • Scheduling a 10-20 minute vipassana meditation practice daily.
  • Starting each day with a gratitude journal.
  • A never-ending commitment to reading, learning and expanding my mind.

Part 2 Sparking Joy (where I am now)

It’s all about letting go. Realizing that perfect is the enemy of good. While it is important to have control over our lives, it can be counterproductive to attempt to control our lives. The energy spent trying to be perfect can keep us from enjoying and appreciating all the good things that exist right before us.

Which also means letting go of thoughts, things, people and habits that no longer spark joy in my life.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

tidying upWith no time to clean or organize (for reasons stated above), shopping for things I already had, my mind and home has become a disorganized array of clutter with stuff I don’t even like, yet enjoy.

I am in the process of –

  • Removing anything in my home and work environment that doesn’t give me a sense of true enjoyment.
  • Guarding my time and my mind with my life. (Note: The 7-Day Mental Diet helps with the mind part)
  • Detoxing my doubts and limiting beliefs about what I can actually achieve.
  • Saying no instead of yes to people who want my time, even if the immediate rewards seem really great. My new motto, “If I don’t feel it, I don’t do it.”

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Part 3 Creating Love 

For me, creating love in my life begins with forgiving myself and others, no matter what my ego says.

Forgiving ourselves is a process that continues our whole life. We are so used to replaying the story of what is wrong with ourselves and others that living with a resentful, tight heart can become our most familiar way of being.

Thousands of times we might find ourselves caught in stories of what we are doing wrong. Thousands of times we might drop under our blame to where the deeper pain lives. With each round of freeing ourselves through forgiveness, we strengthen our recognition of our basic goodness.

Quote from

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

416XVNN6NRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_If you have decided to make a change in your life, I would love to hear about your transformational process – what is working for you, books you are reading, workouts you love, films that have inspired with you.

Too Small to Fail

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.”

Today’s thoughts inspired by a seriously smart book:  Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

Mini HabitsI travel to Manhattan for work each day (some people call it commuting). I intentionally take my travel to New York City each day and I view it as a big adventure. The big apple, right here in my own back yard, a playground that I get to rediscover over and over again. The dreaded 90-minute “commute” has become a part of a mindful and magical journey. Well, sometimes not that “magical”, but you get what you put into it, okay?

467a65572f527359c3eb3172dbb9b0b7Lately I’m very sad about the growing number of homeless men and women I see while I am walking downtown to my office from midtown to Soho. Counting 5, 6, 7 people per block, I thank God I haven’t become numb to this sorrowful situation.

A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

I became angrier and angrier at DiBlasio, at the system, at the crumbling world economy. I thought about creating a video and filming what others may not see. Heroin addicts, veterans, the mentally disabled lying down on the sidewalk with cardboard as their mattress and torn blankets as their cover. But other than devoting time to volunteering at a homeless shelter, what can I do?

Well a dear friend had a wonderful idea that helped me the other day. Bring them lunch. Pack extra lunches to hand out to those who are hungry as I walk to work.

Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

And so I did. I started with one sandwich yesterday. I am thankful to say that it was well received and I made a real connection with someone.  A older woman who thanked me. A soulful moment of compassion in a very crazy city.

Starting Small

This act of giving is not a new idea, but for months I was so concerned about the huge homeless problem I didn’t know where to begin. I got caught up in the amount of time, effort and energy it would take to do something, anything. Whenever we are trying to solve a problem that is bothering us this greatly we sometimes tend to get caught up in the enormity of it.

Perhaps you want to lose weight, hit the gym, save money, develop a new skill, invest in the market. My recommendation to you, is to start small, with mini-habits, that when practiced daily and consistently really do work.

Think about it, your goals may be too lofty and setting you up for failure. Yes it’s okay to dream big, but if you are having trouble failing, take this tip and advice from the author of Mini-Habits.

Some ideas . . .

Big Goal: Travel the world by the time your 30.

Small Habit: Begin by saving $10.00 a day by making lunch. Research the economical benefits of a round the world ticket. Read:  Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

51da8C8qg-L“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.” Quote from Vagabonding.

Big Goal: Lose 25 lbs by your 25th birthday.

Small Habit: Start with 1 less teaspoon of sugar in your coffee each day. Start with a 10 minute walk around the block.

Big Goal: Learn how to code your own website.

Small Habit: Start with a 5 minute session of a  class each day on Lynda.com, or Udemy.com

Big Goal: 100 pushups a day by halloween.

Small Habit: Do one push up right now. Maybe two tomorrow. Grow slow. Grow slow and steady.

Big Goal: Write the book.

Small Habit: Write one true sentence a day. (a wonderful piece of advice from Ernest Hemingway.)

Break it down. Do it daily. Be consistent.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the author’s Mini-Habit Ideas Mini Habits

 

 

 

 

A Super Simple Way to Prepare Farm Fresh Vegetables

farm

You know that wonderful feeling that bubbles up when you go to a fresh farm stand on the side of the road and you load up on your favorite vegetables? Still covered with dirt, very much “in season” and obviously locally grown.  Juicy, ripe healthy tomatoes, corn, spinach, broccoli, beets, carrots, onions, cilantro, radishes, peppers, squash, etc., stacked chin-high in old wooden crate bins.

You haven’t even started cooking and your soul feels nourished. The smells, the colors, the textures. Yes, this is how food is suppose to be. Like you’re deliberately shopping for something very wholesome and pure for yourself. In my mind, this is where nourishment begins.

radish

I have a favorite “health food” grocer in town but I stay away from this isle on the left. The plastic jars, the amber bottles and the supplements with names and claims that are absolutely daunting to comprehend. This aisle gives me a headache. I find it incredibly ironic that a “natural” market would have so many processed products. Take a real mindful look at the photo above. Do you get the same feeling when you are bagging a bunch of fresh radishes as when you are  reading the back of a supplement box? Probably not.

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I obviously love vegetables and share one of my favorite and easiest ways to prepare them so you can nourish yourself all week long.

Grilled Vegetables Marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Roasted Garlic

Step 1

Put on your favorite play list, pure a glass of wine and wash, chop and dry your favorite vegetables.

Step 2

Heat up the grill while you chop and saute fresh garlic in a teaspoon or so of olive oil. The more garlic the better as far as I am concerned.

Step 3

Grill vegetables, let them cool a bit and then toss with garlic. Add a bit of oregano, garlic salt, pepper, fresh basil and turmeric to taste.

Pack them for lunch and eat them with dinner all week long.

Tips

Don’t procrastinate and wait a few days to clean and cook your harvest or you will feel guilty about wasting them. With the exception of potatoes and onions, real food doesn’t last for weeks in the fridge.

Do bulk up and prepare enough for the week.

Do chop and slice them according to how they will cook on the grill and keep the red onions thick or they will fall into the fire.

Do store in glass containers that are oven proof so you can continuously warm them up during the week.

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My favorite

New Snaplock Lid: Tempered Glasslock Storage Containers 20pc set~Microwave & Oven Safe

Cooking-is-Love-Julia-Child-Modern-Quote-Living-Room-Vinyl-Carving-Wall-Decal-Sticker-for-Home

Do add love and mindfulness to your cooking and eating

 

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Read How to Eat (Mindful Essentials) by Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Success with a Strong Sense of Urgency

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It’s a sad thought, but true just the same.  The world has lied to us about what is really important in our lives. If you are working as hard as most and wondering what this is all about and if you have a dream bigger than your 9-9 day job, read on.

I am sharing some very practical and inspiring advice on how to break through your procrastination which will help you build the success you need to get where you want to be. Whether it’s a more meaningful existence,  10 lbs lighter, scaling your business growth or meeting the mate of your dreams. Whatever you want in life, you can have it faster if you create a stronger call-to-action.

Tragic Loss Forces You To Move

What you are going to do is simulate natural occurrences before they actually happen.  You see, when life throws you a fast and furious curve ball and disastrous things happen, a strong sense of urgency is created. Decisions have to be made and you must act, no matter what. You were let go from work, hit hard by the flu, heart-broken by your cheating ex., things change fast and in an instant, and so you must.

Fabricating a Sense of Urgency and Creating An Enormous Call to Action

Here are a few ways in which you will find success in recreating (that is on purpose) a “mock” sense of urgency, a manufactured moment when your priorities become paramount, which will help you break through to change and create the life you really want.

Once you stop wasting energy fabricating excuses, you can start spending energy creating victories.

armada-invencible-pintura--644x362Burn the Boats

Do something that makes it impossible for you to change your plans and go back to the situation you were in before. Break up with the bastard, donate those donuts to a food kitchen, tell your boss your leaving at 6 pm to get to the gym because your health matters.

c167b171-729a-feab-0b5e-5b246d9f7ba0_AMC_TWD_Gallery__Zombies_Upshot_1745gn_V1Create a Very Frightening Story

Go ahead, make a really frightening movie in your mind about what will happen in the future if you continue to smoke two packs a day, day-to-night drink every weekend or eat another slice of dollar pizza at your desk. What will fall to pieces? What will your bad habits drive you to if you don’t make this change?

photoStart all Over

Louis C.K. practices throwing out all of his best material each year,  challenging himself to create better stand up material. Reframe your ambitions with a beginner’s mind.

Ask Yourself Ambitious Questions

What would I do with that five thousand dollar raise I’m going to ask for? Where will I vacation after we hit the million customer mark? What would I create if I had better PhotoShop skills?

No Plan B with a Hard Deadline

You just don’t have one because retreat isn’t an option. Similar to burning the boats but with more deliberate intention. The pain of action is nothing compared to what if feels like to quit. Setting a painfully precise hard deadline holds you accountable and helps keep you from distraction and confusion about your goals.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? What have you tried to spark action in your life? If so, please share it. I would love to hear from you.

Comfort Food, Mindful Kitchens and The Simple Art of Savoring Your Meals

RomansLeft to his own preferences, my husband will choose (actually prefer) to eat a full meal in front of the Jets game followed by a chilled bowl of chocolate ice cream. The absolutely crazy thing is, he seems so Buddha-like doing so, just delighted as he slurps his way through the soft melted mass of what I imagine for him is simply stomach-soothing flavor. Comfort food.

18105-Charming-Vintage-KitchenI, on the other hand, am completely opposite. The mere thought of reclining and eating has me choking on my guacamole and chips.  I don’t know how the Romans did it. For me, comfort and savoring begins with having time. It begins with slowing down, allowing enough time in my day for planning meals, discovering new recipes, unhurried shopping, cooking and eating.

Cooking with Jazz. The Little French Kitchen with the Vintage Red Radio

While in Paris visiting my daughter a few years ago, I noticed that she had developed the habit of turning on a simple vintage red radio of which played amazing jazz background music. What a way to set the stage for a meal that is meant to be truly mindful. The soft music that filled the tiny vintage kitchen was just perfect.

 

vintage

A Thought About Mindless Stress Eating from this Vietnamese Buddhist.

“When a strong emotion arises within us like a storm, we are in great turmoil. We have no peace. Many of us try to pacify the storm by watching television or eating comfort foods. But the storm does not calm down after hours of watching. The storm does not go away after a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream. We hate ourselves afterward for eating the chips and the ice cream. (personal note – I don’t think this happens to my husband, he seems to be absolutely satisfied).  We dread stepping on the scale the next day. We vow to never do it again. But time after time, we do. Why? Because our habit energy pushes us.”

Quote from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life

The Simple Fundamentals of Health and Zen Habits in the Kitchen

Leo Babouta, creator of Zen Habits Radio and ZenHabits shares an eight-minute podcast on the simple fundamentals of health. His message in summary – If you want to stay healthy eat a plate full of vegetables with every meal and do something active and fun every day. I can really appreciate keeping life that simple.

zucchiniVegetables are the foundation of your diet and they should be the first thing you eat with every meal. Don’t like vegetables you say?  Here are 27 amazing things you can do with vegetables that are relatively easy, budget friendly and simple to prepare.

I am by no means a vegetarian, but I do recognize that vegetables have been proven by research to be the healthiest food we can add to our plate.

Plant-based Proteins

Vegetables aren’t typically known for being a great source of protein, but there are some sneaky ones out there that supply a stealth source of protein.

Something important to keep in mind (from Shape Magazine) “Plant proteins are ‘incomplete’ proteins, meaning they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids,” To make sure you get the different types of amino acids you need, make sure to combine these veggies with whole grains.

Peas – Each half-cup contains three and a half grams of protein.

Spinach – You’ll find three grams of protein in a half cup of spinach.

Baked Potato –  A medium-sized one contains three grams. Need some fun topping ideas? Make these spinach- and goat cheese-stuffed baked potatoes.

broccoliBroccoli – Is filled with fiber (2.6 grams per half cup)—and agreat source of protein, with two grams per serving.

Brussels Sprouts –  Nutritional superstars: Each half cup packs two grams of protein, along with 247 milligrams of potassium and 110 micrograms of vitamin K. Luckily for haters everywhere, we found these six new (and delicious) ways to eat Brussels sprouts.

How I Plan to Create a More Mindful Kitchen to Help Savor Meals

I’m going to give my kitchen a deep clean with natural cleaners like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrated Cleaner, Basil, 32 Fluid Ounce (Pack of 2)

Then I will add candles, plants and a selection of teas and emergency stash of ginger lemon cookies for unexpected visitors. 

ginger-sandwich-ciikies-with-grapefruit-cream-fillingCarr’s English Tea Cookies, Ginger Lemon Creme, 7.05 oz box (Pack of 3)

While I personally make it a practice to gratefully pray before eating. I like this Buddhist sentiment about Saying Grace –

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie Buddhist Temple, Lhasa, Tibet

thank-you-sign

I also read a great tip about  taking gratitude bites – a simple practice of saying “thank you” before each mouthful.

Other things I plan on incorporating into my mindful meals

Eating smaller portions from smaller plates – helping to manifest the mindfulness of simplicity – think: a lot less on my plate while discovering more spices and replacing honey as a sweetener in my coffee.

sobremesa

 

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

uni

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.