Level 10 Life

How are those New Year goals shaping up? In my previous post, I talked about choosing ONE goal at a time to work on. When you focus your efforts on one habit change at a time, your likelihood of adopting it as a long-term habit greatly increases. Today, I want to show you another tool that you can use to help you determine what one thing you need to focus on.

Level 10 Life is a concept that has been floating around the internet for a while. The idea is that you pick 8-10 areas of life that are important to you, like relationships, career, spirituality, etc., then rate yourself on the categories on a regular basis. I have been drawing out a Level 10 Life chart in my journal at the beginning of each month for about 5 months now, and I am shocked at the difference it has made in my intentionality to change habits! Here’s just a sample of what a Level 10 chart could look like (these are made up categories and made up scores).

FullSizeRender

So, here’s out it works. I like to do mine once a month, which is a good amount of time for me to work on a habit. You could choose to do it every 6 weeks, every 3 months, or whatever else works for you! I just copy the simple diagram I have outlined in black each month. I then write my 8 categories for each section (keep them the same each month). Next, I rate on a scale of 1-10 how I feel each category was in the previous month. For example, in the diagram above, the person felt they were lacking in rest and finances, but hey, they sure were happy!

The last thing I do is choose the category with the lowest score and reflect on why I rated it that low, and what ONE thing I can do in the following month to bring up the score. This is not a guilt-trip. It is not saying, “I am the worst at getting sleep.” It is saying, “Rest is very important to me, and my lifestyle this past month didn’t reflect that. How can I fix that this month?” So, with the above diagram showing the lowest score in rest, I would have a goal like, “Turn phone on silent by 9:00 PM every week night.” Or, “designate 3 hours on the weekend to put everything aside and rest.”

You don’t have to change everything at once. You don’t even have to change 2 things at once. Give yourself the time and grace to truly become the person you want to be. Pick your own 8 categories for a Level 10 Life chart, set a reminder on your phone to fill a new one out every month, and then pay attention to how you change. You just might be as surprised as I was!

One.

It’s about a week into the new year! How are those resolutions coming? Or, maybe you’re tired of following the crowd and decided to go without the resolutions this year. According to Forbes, about 40% of Americans make resolutions every year, but only about 8% actually achieve these goals and well-intentions. If you are one of those annual 8%, congratulations for sticking to your plan! The rest of us could learn a thing or 2 from you. But if you’re in the other camp who can’t even remember their resolutions by March, there’s still a way to make a change for the better in 2017! Try this exercise instead.

 

  1. Instead of writing down a list of goals, write down 3 things you want to become a habit this year. This will look much like a list of resolutions, but stick with me! Example:
    1. Drink less sodas
    2. Get more hours of sleep per night
    3. Pay more attention to close relationships.
  2. Next, pick ONE of the things off your list. The others will come into play later, but for now just pick one. Example:
    1. Pay more attention to close relationships
  3. After you’ve done that, plan ONE thing you could do each week to make progress in that area. Example:
    1. Call out-of-town friend or grandparent 1 time per week.
  4. Write it down, post it on your refrigerator, mirror, or steering wheel, put it as a reminder in your phone, do whatever it takes to remind you of this one weekly change.
  5. When you feel that your one change has become a habit, move on the next one and do the exact same thing. Example:
    1. To get more hours of sleep, install an app that shuts down certain social media apps at a time you choose each night. Try Freedom app for iOS. It’s shocking how much sleep time you could gain just from staying off of the phone!
    2. To drink less sodas, figure out how many you have right now. If you currently have 5 sodas a day, spend 2 weeks having 4 sodas a day. Then 2 weeks having 3 sodas a day, etc.

 

That’s it! For now, all you’re doing is the ONE thing that will make a difference in ONE area of your life. Maybe it takes 3 months to become a habit, or maybe it only takes 6 weeks. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, the point is that something that had been a stressor or an unhealthy habit for a year or 2 or 10 is eventually weeded out, and the positive habit becomes second nature to you. When we change one thing at a time, our brain is more easily able to adopt it as a habit. Changing too many things at one time leads to overwhelm, and the brain is unable to keep up with the pace. You eventually shut down and toss your well-intentions out the window. Take it slow. Be fully engaged in the process and note what works for you and what doesn’t, then move on to the next goal. Spend some time today doing the exercise above. What’s your ONE?nature-does-not-hurry-yet-everything-is-accomplished-lao-tzu

All About Tea

e9a03c1d-8b20-41bc-aaf7-e0daf8a65a8a

It’s cold out there! Cold enough that it makes me want to drink coffee all day long. However, the few times I have done that have led to some pretty miserable all-nighters full of staring wide-eyed at the ceiling. If you’re like me and can’t handle caffeine past noon, how about trying some hot herbal tea (or iced, if you can stand it)? There a ton of flavors to choose from, and many of them have extra health-boosting qualities!

In cultures around the world people have been brewing leaves, fruits, flowers, roots, bark and berries for centuries. Here’s why:

  • Research suggests the antioxidants in tea help protect against cancer
  • Tea is high in oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), which means it helps destroy free radicals that can damage DNA
  • Tea is primarily water and therefore naturally hydrating

Herbal teas can be soothing when you’re suffering from minor symptoms, but they are primarily formulated for taste enjoyment and general health enhancement.

So what are the 7 different types of herbal teas, and will they improve my health?

  • Immune stimulating blend teas: These contain tonic herbs known as Adaptogens that help strengthen or enhance the immune system, nervous system and/or glandular system while they help the body cope with stress.
    • Look for: Siberian ginseng, Panax ginseng, Astragalus, Schisandra, Echinacea, Ashwagandha, Reishi mushrooms and licorice.
  • Digestive aid blend teas: Many herbs have digestion­-stimulating properties. They can help relieve gas and heartburn, stimulate the flow of gastric juices, relax spasms and cramps and dispel nausea or queasiness.
    • Look for: Ginger, anise seeds, thyme, chamomile, hyssop, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, fennel, coriander, chicory, catnip and cardamom.
  • Calming and sedative blend teas: After a tough day filled with stress (and usually caffeine), Americans have a tough time settling down enough to fall asleep. Sedative teas are mild in action, due to dose.
    • Look for: Chamomile, hops, linden flowers, lavender, passionflower, skullcap, valerian, tilia buds and white sapote.
  • Stress-relief blend teas: These teas differ from sedative teas because they are designed to help you cope with stress without becoming sleepy.
    • Look for: Siberian Ginseng or Kava
  • Stimulating spice blend teas: Spicy teas will warm you internally and stimulate your digestion and elimination. They need a longer brewing time and are best simmered for ten minutes to bring out their spicy flavor.
    • Look for: Cinnamon, cardamom, chai spice
  • Cold-fighting Vitamin C Fruit blend teas: These teas can contribute significant amounts of Vitamin C to your diet, and are delicious iced. Because they have a strong citrus accent, they are refreshing and thirst quenching and can keep you hydrated just as well as water.
    • Look for: Orange, lemon, berry
  • Antioxidant-rich Rooibos teas: This caffeine­-free tea is unique in the herbal tea world. Rooibos (which means “red bush” and is pronounced “roy­-boss”) is grown only in the tip of South Africa in Cape Town. It is the only herbal tea that is fermented like black tea, producing a deep red color and body similar to black tea but without black tea’s astringency. Rooibos is rich in vitamin C, minerals, Quercetin, Luteolin, Rutin and numerous other flavonoids that contribute to its antispasmodic, hypoallergenic and antioxidant properties.

Wow! There are so many different options for tea, there is no reason not to try one out! Visit a tea shop where you can smell the leaves and sample some of the flavors brewed that day. It’s a delicious way to warm yourself up. What is your favorite flavor of tea?

 

5 easy and clean recipes from around the web

Eating clean doesn’t have to be a chore! While it’s true that this will take a little more effort than Hamburger Helper, these 5 recipes are some of my go-tos when I don’t want to put a lot of effort or time into cooking. I’ve also made all 5 of these recipes for non-Paleo eaters, and I’ve always gotten good reviews! Give one of them a try this week.

  1. Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie from PaleOMG

img_0925

2) Bean-less Chili from Sarah Fragoso

3) Savory Chicken Casserole from He and She Eat Clean

savory-chicken-casserole-he-and-she-eat-clean-paleo-gluten-free-vegetables-dinner-recipe

4) Greens with Potatoes and Sausage from Stupid Easy Paleo

5) Quinoa Breakfast Scramble from Wendy Polisi

quinoascramble-1

*All photos credits go to recipe author

 

10 on-the-go snacks

It’s that time of year! If you’re not spending every spare minute dashing from store to store in search of Christmas presents, you’re probably spending every spare minute getting ready for your big Christmas family vacation. ‘Tis the season to be eating in the car! While eating on-the-go isn’t something you want to make a habit, it is necessary sometimes. Be prepared for your travel time with snacks that give you energy, keep you in the Christmas spirit, and keep you from picking up winter sicknesses. Make sure you have some items from this list (many can be found at a convenience store) stashed in your car or purse so that you aren’t caught empty-handed. Snack well so that you can allow space for the special Christmas goodies coming your way!

  • Nuts—an excellent source of high protein: Look for raw or dry roasted and stay away from nuts with additives like vegetable oil and salt as these can turn rancid if they sit in a bag in a store.
  • Fruit—packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants: Look for organic fruit like bananas packed with potassium and oranges loaded with Vitamin C
  • Yogurt—high in protein and good source of healthy fats: Look for full-fat, organic yogurt or ones that do not contain artificial flavors or sweeteners like corn syrup.
  • Hard boiled eggs—high source of protein and will keep your blood sugars level: Boil them the night before and throw a couple in your bag.
  • Peanut butter sandwich—also high in protein and stabilizes blood sugar: Look for a brand that is organic or free of additives.
  • Energy bars—a much healthier and nutritious alternative to chocolate bars: Avoid brands with soy protein isolate and look for brands that contain over 10 grams of whey protein, hemp protein or pea protein.
  • Dark chocolate—high in natural caffeine that can give you that energy boost: Look for brands that list cacao as the first ingredient not sugar.
  • Trail Mix—packed with a combo of proteins and sugars to increase your energy: Look for a mix that doesn’t contain added vegetable oil and salt or buy a variety of nuts, seeds, raisins and cranberries at the health store to mix yourself.
  • Raw veggies—slices of raw veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals: Choose organic veggies where possible and cut the morning of to maintain their maximum nutrients instead of buying pre-cut slices in a bag.
  • Seeds—pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are high in sources of vegetable protein: Look for raw seeds wherever possible. You can find them in the bulk food section.

Balance

This blog post just about sums up everything I think about living a balanced life. I could try to write my own blog post about it, but this woman has already said it all! I love what she says at the end about how finding balance is all about focusing on FEELING GOOD. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to keep food logs, weigh everything, or burn x amount of calories every day. It is a matter of asking yourself, “Will this choice positively contribute to the way I feel physically, emotionally, and mentally?” Are the alternatives physical pain and guilt trips? Prepare yourself for the onslaught of holiday gatherings and check out the blog post link below to read more about what finding balance means.

http://www.katheats.com/the-definition-of-balance

Standards

Who defines your standard of beauty and physical appearance? Is it yourself? Your friend group? Social media and pop culture? This question has been on my mind lately after receiving this advertisement in the mail for a local gym.

fullsizerender

These 2 athletic creatures graced the cover, and my immediate thought was “Yep. Everyone wants to look like her.” At the same time, my boyfriend scoffed, “Look at this picture. She’s got a six-pack and then zero muscle definition anywhere else. Obviously the abs were photoshopped because you don’t get ab definition without getting other definition.”

Fascinating. I realized that I had been in the middle of falling prey to exactly what the ad was trying to accomplish: reminding all of us that apparently the current standard of beauty and fitness for a woman is a six-pack. I had not even noticed the lack of definition in her arms or legs and had only thought “Wow. Awesome abs.” But he was absolutely correct. A person doesn’t really get abs like that without other evidence of fitness from head to toe. This brought up a slew of questions for me:

  • Who decided that the six-pack is the current standard?
  • Why wasn’t this woman photoshopped with defined quads and shoulders as well?
  • Who told women to not desire having muscles other than abs?
  • Pretty sure the quads on that man were photoshopped too. Who decided quads were the male standard?
  • Why can’t gyms be about healthy bodies instead of “getting ripped” anyways?
  • WHY DO MAGAZINES AND ADVERTISEMENTS INFLUENCE OUR CONFIDENCE IN OUR APPEARANCES SO DRASTICALLY?

I realize that last question is one that has been floating around for years. Many women and men alike are releasing the cultural expectations to look a certain way. But there is still a long way to go. Are you falling prey to the hundreds of expectations laid before you each day without even realizing it like I did with this flyer? Spend some time today asking yourself who or what is defining your standard. Somebody else’s standard will only serve to lead you on a wild goose chase since media is constantly redefining what it is. Define your own. Choose health and fitness for you and your quality of life. It just might be the only way to be truly beautiful, inside and out.

 

The easiest protein bars you’ll ever make

I found this recipe on my favorite CrossFit athlete’s (Julie Foucher) Instagram about a year ago, and it has since been my go-to recipe for when I need a quick batch of convenience food. Though you can find some quality protein bars at the grocery store or gas station, most of them are high in sugar and processed ingredients. Plus, they can sometimes be up to $4 for a single bar! That’s an expensive snack. These are cheap to make, keep for a long time, and are just as convenient as grabbing something out of a box. Give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 4.5 cups of rolled oats (old fashioned or quick oats)
  • 1.5 cups of peanut butter
  • 1 cup of coconut cream (buy one can of full-fat coconut milk. Use the fat solids from the top of the can first, then the liquid until you have one cup total between both the fat and the liquid)
  • 4 scoops of protein powder

Directions:

  • Dump it all in a bowl and mix it up!
  • Press into a 9×13 pan
  • Freeze for at least 2 hours to overnight
  • Slice into bars* and wrap individually in foil or saran wrap
  • Keep in refrigerator

*Makes 12-20 bars depending on how big you want them

Suggestions:

This is just a base recipe. It is yummy all by itself, but get creative and change it up so you don’t burn out on just the one flavor.

  • Use a different kind of nut butter
  • Change what flavor of protein you use
  • Add nuts, seeds, coconut shavings, raisins, or anything else you like in a bar

Essential Sleep Tips

When I Google “how to sleep,” I get no less than 43,700,000 results. Wow!! There is obviously quite a bit to say about the subject, yet most of us still complain of being constantly tired. Something needs to change. But first of all, what’s important about getting good sleep?

Good sleep is vital for good health. Sleep deprivation can lead to a multitude of health issues:

  • It escalates the hunger hormone called ghrelin, which increases food cravings
  • It escalates the stress hormone called cortisol, which can cause weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis and depressed immunity
  • It causes elevated blood pressure in people with hypertension, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke

Learning how to improve your sleep is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity!

How do I get better sleep?

Follow these 7 tips and rest assured (excuse the pun) that you will feel more rejuvenated and energized than you even knew was possible:

  1. Practice regular sleep rhythms by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day.
  2. Create total quiet and darkness in your bedroom.
  3. Avoid caffeine or reduce your intake after noon as it affects your sleep dramatically.
  4. Get regular exposure to daylight for at least 20 minutes a day because the sunlight triggers your brain to release melatonin, which is vital for healthy sleep.
  5. Eat no later than two hours before you go to bed because eating a heavy meal before bedtime will impede your body’s natural overnight detoxification process.
  6. Write down your worried thoughts before bedtime so you can free your mind and drop into a deep and restful sleep.
  7. Take a hot salt or aromatherapy bath because raising your body temperature before bed helps to induce sleep.

What do I do now?

The above tips are probably something you’ve read before if you’ve done any kind of sleep research. The problem is DOING IT! Contact me if you would like some one-on-one accountability in implementing some of these sleep tips. How would your days change if you weren’t exhausted and fuzzy-brained for most of it? Let me know!

How finding your tribe can impact your waistline

Being surrounded by a group of people you can be your uncensored self with can actually help you maintain your weight and control cravings. Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain with a story that happened just a few days ago in the gym.

Despite my best efforts at trying not to care too much about my performance in the gym, I had a day when those efforts flew out the window. A workout didn’t go as planned, and it resulted in me throwing a fit for most of it then storming out the back door at the end. After giving me the appropriate amount of “cool off” time (thanks, guys), one dear friend came out and let me complain about everything in my day that led to such a horrible workout. She just sat there while I vented and had all the right words and encouragements in response. After that little recharge, I decided it was time for my walk of shame back into the gym, where everyone had just seen me throw a temper tantrum. As soon as I walked in the door with my eyes on the ground, another friend looked at me before I said a word and said “It’s not a big deal. This is a place where you can be your true self and no one looks down on you or makes fun of you for it. They just pick you back up. You can’t find that anywhere else.” Whoa. He was absolutely correct and spoke more truth for me than he knew.

You see, in the past I’ve been pretty good at putting on a happy face for people. And what that led to many times was sugar cravings and emotional eating. When I’m feeling lost or sad or stressed or anxious or you name it, I want cookies. Plural. Times 4. This may sound strange, but hang with me for a minute while I explain. From the time of birth onward, humans crave sweetness. Not food sweetness, but sweetness from life. From belonging, feeling loved, feeling safe, having a tribe, being fulfilled, and so on. If we aren’t getting that, or in my case, not allowing ourselves to have that, that innate need can come out in constant sugar cravings, and therefore emotional eating. It seems far-fetched. But I know it has been true in my life. In the past with a situation like the one I described above, I probably would have spent the evening thinking of all the treats I wanted to eat, and then eating many of them. But this time, the thought of food didn’t even cross my mind. I was already “full.” I was my true self in front of people, they allowed me to express that, and then they told me there was no shame in it. What a beautiful gift. What sweetness are you missing in your life that could possibly be trickling down into your food choices?

barbell-sunlight-1bw