The Secret to Happiness is…

“I don’t want to be happy,” said no one ever.

happy-47083_640Of course all of us want to be happy, right? If someone asked you today to rank your happiness from one to ten, where would you rank? My ranking, like most people I imagine, changes a bit with different events in my life. When I have a breakthrough session with a client? A 10! When I’m having “one of those days?” Maybe a 5. When my daughters were born? A 100. :)

I think it’s fair to say that no one can be happy 100% of the time. But everyone wants to feel happy with their lives generally. After all, what’s life without happiness?

Can You Be Kind Today?

So, how do we become happier? While that answer will vary from person to person, there is one simple thing we can all do to boost our happiness: be kind.

Studies have shown that people who are kind to others are more likely to experience happiness themselves. In fact, researchers have found that kindness and happiness create a “virtuous cycle” that can lead to long-term happiness.

You Can Do It: Do something nice for someone everyday for a full week, and see how you feel (and let me know about it in the comments)! If the research is right, I bet you’ll feel like a million bucks.

9 Easy Ways To Spread Kindness

  1. Say hello and smile at a stranger.
  2. Hold the door open for someone.
  3. Tell someone you appreciate them and why.
  4. Do a favor without being asked.
  5. Call your mom.
  6. Make a donation to a person or cause you care about.
  7. Write a letter, not an e-mail, use a stamp and everything!
  8. Cook a meal for someone.
  9. Go on a “walk and talk” with a friend.

Can You Add To My List?

Leave a comment on an easy way to spread kindness and improve your happiness.

Happiness is the kind of thing that feels elusive sometimes, I know. But let’s all try to get our virtuous cycles going, and get some more happiness by giving some more kindness – to others and ourselves.

Have a healthy, happy day!

6 Holiday Gifts That Don’t Cost a Thing! #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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No Money? No Problem! Give Love Instead

How’s that holiday shopping going? If you’re like me, this time of year brings out my innermost giver. I want to recognize everyone in my life during the holidays…my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, mail carrier, fitness instructors, and the list goes on! But like everyone, I don’t have an unlimited amount of time or money.

Give a piece of your heart this holiday season.

Give a piece of your heart this holiday season.

So what’s a giver to do?  I’m all about reducing stress and increasing wellness and self-care. Buying gifts for every single person you want to thank can drain your bank account and your sanity. But there’s good news! Gratitude is free. Giving and receiving gifts of any value (monetary or emotional) brings more happiness in both the giver and receiver. We get a nice “boost” of oxytocin (a.k.a. the happy hormone, the bonding hormone, the love hormone).

You Can Do It Challenge: Give love & kindness – it’s FREE and it’s good for you!

Take a minute, think of all of the people in your life who you’d like to recognize, and give them the gift of gratitude instead. Trust me, they’ll like that way better than a new pair of socks or any other material item.

6 Gift Ideas That Don’t Cost A Thing

Want to give gifts that will make a lasting impression? Then ditch the shopping mall, and try one or more of these ideas instead. 

  1. Give help. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Maybe your elderly neighbor needs a little assistance. Or your friend needs someone to help her through a personal problem. Or your dog needs an extra long walk tomorrow morning. Giving a little bit of help to those around you will undoubtedly bring the spirit of the holidays back in full force!
  2. Give gratitude. All of us have those people in our lives that make life so much better. Yet we often times fail to tell them how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate them. So this season, TELL them what they mean to you. It can be in person, in a card, over the phone, whatever. The hearts of everyone involved will swell.
  3. Give a personal service. Are you handy around the house? Good with numbers? An amazing seamstress? I’m sure all of you have a skill that’s either part of your day job or a serious hobby. Either way, share your talents! Give someone a homemade gift certificate for something that you happen to be good at…it will surely brighten their day.
  4. Give a meal. Time…it’s one of those things that nobody has enough of these days. We are all. so. busy. So if you know of someone who is having a particularly rough go of it, why not double up whatever you’re making for dinner, and help a friend in need?
  5. Give back. This is the season of giving, after all. So pick a worthy organization, and sign up! Better yet, find a friend to go with and make that your “present” to each other. Search for one that works for you here: http://www.volunteermatch.org/. I promise, it’ll make you feel amazing.
  6. Give creativity. Still want to give a physical gift? That’s okay – it doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. Make some bath salts for your coworkers, create a favorite recipes booklet for your friends, or fill a mason jar with some of your famous cooking. None of these ideas grab you? Get other ideas here: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/25-easy-homemade-gift-ideas.html

Giving is one of those things that is a win-win for everyone involved. Both the giver and receiver feel like a million bucks…and it didn’t cost you a thing. And the added bonus? None of these things are holidays-only activities; you can do them all year long.

You Can Do It Challenge: Give love. Pick 1 or 2 of the ideas above, and give someone a little piece of your heart.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.

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Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge. Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: More Singing Please

Happy HolidaysHello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

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Scrub-a-dub-dub…Let’s Sing in the Tub

With our endless to-do lists and jam packed schedules it’s rare we find a minute to ourselves.  If you’re like me, taking a break to recharge is vital to my sanity and stress managment. There’s one activity I find that is always relaxing (and necessary)…a shower!  No matter the length of time I’m able to spend in that steamy porcelain palace it’s a phone-free, kid-free and stress-free zone.

I’m pretty certain everyone (including me) seems to love the sound of their voice in the shower. What’s so special about this private venue? Maybe it’s my tiled floor and porcelain tub and the steady tempo of the hot water to accompany as my back up vocals. There’s no doubt about it that the bathroom creates a pleasing acoustic environment.

How Singing Makes You Healthy and Happy

Singing is an ageless enjoyment. From the time of infancy we’ve been babbling tunes, either to ourselves or any listening ear. Some of the first songs we learned were nursery rhymes…over time that might have evolved into Busta Rhymes, but the point is singing is something we all enjoy.

Regardless if you sing off key there are health benefits that come along with belting out your favorite tunes.

  • Singing improves our mood by releasing the same feel good brain chemicals as sex, chocolate, and childbirth (seriously, it does)
  • It gives our lungs a workout by helping us breathe more deeply, taking in more oxygen so we feel more alert and energized
  • Signing helps tone our abdominal muscles and strengthen our diaphragm to improve circulation and posture
  • It boosts our confidence and helps strengthen our concentration and memory

Learn more about how singing changes your brain. 

sing in the shower

Challenge: Sing Yourself Happy and Fit

This week give yourself permission to spend a few extra minutes suds-ing up in the shower…don’t just sing in the shower–perform! Sing loud and proud like your grammy nomination depends on it.

If you’re looking for some backing vocals create a free playlist on Pandora or join Spotify’s “Songs to Sing in the Shower” playlist for some favorite one-hit-wonders. ( They have playlists for everything!) Or maybe you prefer singing acapella, in that case Whitney and Mariah never steer me wrong.

My Favorite Songs to Sing

I’ll admit I’ve been secretly listening to holiday tunes before Thanksgiving, which is usually my guidelines. No matter the time of year these are some of my faves.

  • Running – I love the entire Hairspray soundtrack, but I especially like “You Can’t Stop the Beat”. Who doesn’t love MJ? I absolutely love to run and sing and clap like I’m in a Baptist Church on Sunday to “Man in the Mirror”
  • In the shower – My best friend and I loved Salt-n-Peppa growing up so I just can’t help it as I’m loofahing to chant out at least one “ooooh baby baby…. ba baby baby” from Push It.
  • With my daughters – Every night before bed the each get their own rendition of “Maybe” from Annie. I love that song. I love the original movie and I’m so excited there will be a new one coming out on my birthday!

How about you? Leave a comment below on your favorite song to sing and you could win a free private coaching session with me (via Skype). You need to be signed up in the challenge to win.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.  You’ll get weekly emails, along with my free guide to making over your kitchen with healthy food staples.

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Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: The Big “O”…Overeating.

Happy Holidays

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

blog_mailSignup

 

The Big “O”…Overeating.

“I shouldn’t have that!” “There are way too many calories in this!” “I’m going to regret this later.” There is a LOT of opportunity for negative food-related emotions during the holidays. So how do we deal with these moments and get on with enjoying the important part of the holidays: Enjoying time with family and friends?

Accept that You’re Going to Overeat During the Holidays

Last week I talked about guilt related to labeling a food as “good” or “bad”. What about guilt from an even more common occurrence: Overeating. Overeating is one of the biggest food-related concerns of the holidays. It’s basically a given that overeating, to some degree, is going to happen. So how do we eliminate overeating during the holidays? …We don’t! It’s unrealistic, and honestly, unnecessary. Overeating is part of the holiday experience, and as part of human nature, something we enjoy. What we can do, is ensure this occurs in a healthy way.

Source: www.desktopnexus.com

Source: www.desktopnexus.com

You Can Do It Challenge:  Make a truce with yourself right now that you are going to overeat and you are going to savor every bite you choose to take with awareness and gratitude.

Use Mindful Eating to Enjoy Food During the Holidays

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Mindful eating is being fully present with your food. No matter how much you have.

Here are my tips for mindful eating:

  • Use all your senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch (texture on your tongue).
  • When making your plate, ask what do I really want (not necessarily what is healthiest/you should eat).
  • Make a plate that looks appealing and looks like it will be enough to satisfy you.
  • Enjoy the food by noticing the smell and taste. Comment on what you are enjoying. Ask the chef who prepared the delicious food about anything you might be curious about – how easy or hard was this, what spice do I taste, etc?
  • Chew the food well to break it down for good digestion and to get enough time with the texture of it in your mouth.
  • Enjoy the conversation at the table and the food.
  • Be grateful for ALL the gifts in your life, including the privilege of enjoying the food with the people around you.

Some of the basic principles of intuitive eating are honoring hunger and respecting fullness. When you are paying attention, you will notice those signals your body sends that you are full or still hungry.

But what if I know I’m full, and I still REALLY want that piece of cheesecake I’ve been staring at since dinner started? Go ahead! But use this time to really enjoy that piece of cheesecake, and pay attention to what you’re feeling. The moment you take a bite and it’s not as enjoyable, put your fork down and leave the rest. See [link for mindful eating blog] for more mindful eating tips.

Eat for Yourself, And Nobody Else

Understand you always have choices. Make the ones that feel right to you. Just because Aunt Bea is waving her famous apple pie under your nose, coaxing you to have a piece, doesn’t mean you have to take it if you’re not hungry or you don’t want it right now. Get comfortable with politely saying, some version of “No, Thank you.”

Chances are, they are just trying to be a gracious host, or take care of you. But if that’s not how you feel, if you feel “pressured” to eat to make them happy, sit with that feeling and try one of my techniques.

The goal is to get the other person focused on something other than taking responsibility for your need/desire to eat (which is not their job).

Here are a few of my favorite “polite declines”

  • looks delicious… I’m not hungry now, but I’ll look for it later
  • smells so good… I need to digest a little bit and then I’ll get some
  • wow that looks great! Is it good? I’m full right now, but I’ll try it in a little bit
  • thank you so much… I’m not sure if I want ______ or _____

While this is just my opinion, I believe everyone who tries to respect their body (and fullness) at the present moment and who does not eat for “show” or to make others happy, is actually a happier person.

I promise, at the end of the day, no one is going to get offended you didn’t eat yourself sick. (And if they do, trust me, there is a reason behind it.)

Try these tips for healthfully enjoying overeating during the holidays, and make the choice to leave guilt-ridden eating behind.

Enter to Win

Psst… I’m running a contest on THIS post for healthy meal prep around holiday time. If you like cooking tools, check it out and leave a comment on the post to win.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up below.

blog_mailSignup

 

Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c

#HappyHolidaysChallenge: Give Yourself Permission to Eat

Happy Holidays

Hello there! If you’re reading for the first time or just stopping by for the fun, I’m doing a “Happy Holidays” wellness challenge to help you cultivate more health and happiness the rest of 2014. Catch up on the details on how to join and win the prizes. Or if it already sounds like a good idea, sign up below.

blog_mailSignup

Give Yourself Permission to Eat

We want to be able to enjoy the holidays, and food is often a big part of what we look forward to. Food provides a lot of benefits, and only one of them is nourishment. It evokes positive and enjoyable memories, creates a feeling of togetherness, and can taste really good.

If you identify as a chronic dieter (or “food police”), the holidays may feel like a stressful time when you’re surrounded by a bunch of foods that you “cannot” eat, must avoid, or otherwise feel you have no self control around. White knuckling it through holiday parties to steer clear of delicious “bad food” is no way to embrace the spirit of the season – it leads to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and guilt (and likely overeating when you finally give in – ironic, isn’t it?)

Giving yourself permission to eat is a basic need and a foundation principle of intuitive eating, which is the natural way we are supposed to eat (click here for more info about intuitive eating).

Image Source: http://wexlerevents.ca/the-buffet-benefits/

Image Source: http://wexlerevents.ca/the-buffet-benefits/

Party On

There are going to be lots of fun parties with lots of food.  Don’t miss out on the good times because you’re too busy worrying and stressing  about what you can and “can’t” eat.  This season, instead of avoiding the foods you love, tell yourself that it’s okay to enjoy them. In the end, this is all about creating positive experiences with food and erasing guilt, shame, and diet-focused thinking.

Are You The “Food Police”?

Here’s a quick way to know if your food rules are out of hand: If you avoid foods for reasons other than food allergy or dislike for the taste or texture, there’s a food rule somewhere. I’m all for eating healthy and balanced, but healthy does not mean perfect and food should not be some kind of moral judgement.

Why not make some progress in this area, away from “all or nothing” thinking and toward balance.

You can do it challenge: Break Out of Food Jail

Take 5 minutes to think about 5 foods you genuinely enjoy eating that you may feel guilty about when you do. Instead of avoiding them, make a plan to eat at least one of them with family and friends this week. For example – bake cookies with your family and then share the delicious treats with your neighbors or coworkers.

What do you think happens when you give yourself permission to eat? In my experience (personal and with clients) you tend to enjoy the food sans guilt and you tend to eat it in moderation. You still get the healthy stuff you like too. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

I have never met a single person who said they got pleasure and enjoyment out of denying themselves foods they love.  By now you are more skilled at eating with awareness. If not, freshen up those skills from the previous challenge.

What are you going to do differently this year to let go of those food rules? If the thought is uncomfortable, it’s OK. Most new things require discomfort. Until they are comfortable. That’s called change.

Check In

How are you doing so far? Leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook. If you’re on Twitter, follow me and the #HappyHolidaysChallenge for even more motivation.

If you’re not “officially” in the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll get weekly emails, along with the chance to win free prizes each week. All you need to do is sign up below.

blog_mailSignup

Challenge Your Friends

People do better with support from friends. (It’s a scientific fact!) Ask your friends to join you by sharing on social media or just send them this e-mail with the link to subscribe to the challenge.

Facebook: Join me and Rebecca Scritchfield for a free 60-day wellness challenge.  Get healthier and happier this holiday season. http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c #HappyHolidaysChallenge

Twitter: I’m taking the #HappyHolidaysChallenge with @ScritchfieldRD. Join us http://wp.me/p2T0R-20c