Give It Time

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Time… It’s in Your Hands

As we approach 2015 I find myself reflecting on the year that’s past and looking forward to the promise of the new year to come.  This time last year I officially relaunched my website and blog after the almost year-old site died due to a server crash.  It was a tragic feeling to have the thirty or so blog posts I had written lost in the cyber ethers.  But I picked up the pieces and decided to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes.  The fatality of my original website made me realize that I had to reprioritize my goals and rethink my approach to blogging and spreading the good word about fitness and wellness.  My best friend and fellow wellness practitioner, Daniel Wiener, and I began collaborating on a book concept that would tie together the best of our experience and knowledge as fitness instructors, life coaches and wellness advisors.  Our lifestyle and self-help fitness and wellness guide is about maximizing your lifestyle potential in minutes everyday.  “Lifestyle” is how we describe the fashion, quality and experience of our lives or how we want to live.  Reaching your lifestyle potential means making the most of your life and your time to live the life you desire.  This blog post is a bit of a sneak preview and primer to our upcoming publication and hopefully will act as inspiration to those of you who are looking to renew your purpose and realize your full potential as a human being with measurable results in manageable amounts of time.

time_revealsBeing human is a funny thing.  We want so many things and yet sometimes we forget to take care of what we need to do to achieve our goals and reach our dreams.  Our passions and desires can guide and inspire us or blind and distract us.  Our need for freedom, fear of failure and yearning for recognition can keep us from developing the discipline we need to become what would serve others and settle the urgings of our souls.  That’s what our book is all about: discovering what your priorities are and making time to fit in the necessary practices needed to achieve full expression of one’s life goals within one’s desired lifestyle.  Time is our most finite resource.  It’s brevity makes life important.  We only have so many turns around the sun before our number is up.  In that scale of time we must find out what we want, come to know who we are, learn to love and accept ourselves, embrace our gifts and then strive toward our goals until we reach them.  We are only limited by our own imagination, motivation and effort and how we organize the time we have on Earth to shape what we feel is important into a reality we can be proud of, our ultimate legacy.

3CsWe all want to matter; to leave our mark.  Some people have children whom they raise well to forward their impression on the world.  Others give of their minds with creative works and inventions to become an indelible influence on the human race.  Still others provide services and give of their hearts to make the world a better place.  All are remarkable, commendable and honorable ways of contributing to the advancement of our society.  If one is lucky and organized, they can leave many contributions to the world.  But there are only so many days to make your life matter and be a special stitch in the fabric of humanity.  Improving your life and making the most of your time is never a selfish act.  If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you help others?  When you don’t contribute your best to uplift those you love, isn’t that selfish?  The way we use our time and energy determines the course and effectiveness of our lives.  With focus and discipline all people can achieve positive goals through determination and planning.  But we must also be willing to change, make better choices, take chances, adapt and adopt new actions to become something we haven’t yet been.  All experiences and actions in our lives exact change.  What matters most is how we spend it!

time_is_freeEver get to the end of the day and wonder where it all went?  How about the week, month or year?  Time can seem quite relative.  It flies when we’re having fun and slows to a crawl when we’re bored or have to wait.  Time goes by differently for a child than an adult.  The years slip away quickly when we grow up, but can you remember waiting for Christmas or your birthday as a child?  It seemed like an aeon away!  Time is largely a construct of the mind, though we measure it so precisely.  It can run like water and our efforts and experiences can seem to evaporate with only digital snapshots, videos and fleeting results of what was meant to be and what could have been.  Time isn’t free… it takes its toll and we want to be ready with our token when our time comes.  Life, in fact, is a measure of time and what we do with it.  It’s important to live a life of breadth and meaning, but that end requires making the most of the time we have here on Earth to make our lives what we want them to be and impact the world in some significant way.  When it comes to measuring how well we live – the great equalizer – the container in which we fulfill our existence – the most important component for creating our lifestyle and legacy – it’s all a matter of time.

impossible_journeyLearning to manage your time, as a resource, may be the most valuable practice you ever implement.  People feel limited by many different things, but time is the ultimate boundary between one’s aspirations and their realization.  Never underestimate the power of now.  Dreams and goals require action to be met.  Taking mere minutes everyday to reach your destiny can make all the difference in the quality of your life and lifestyle.  A great example is taking the time each day to exercise and maintain your physical fitness.  If you leave out that time for self-sustaining practice your health and fitness will be negatively impacted.  You will lose muscle, become inflexible, retain fat and your arteries will harden and collapse prematurely.  But taking just a twenty-minute bout of exercise each day will most certainly stave off ill health, build and maintain muscle, preserve suppleness, keep you slim and trim, open your blood vessels and re-energize your life force.

future_todayHow we choose to spend our minutes, everyday, winds up defining key aspects of our lives.  We cannot achieve goals tomorrow that we haven’t already worked toward or prepared for in the present.  It has to be today that we take action.  Otherwise we will procrastinate and “bump” our actions into some nebulous future tense.  Action today equals creation and achievement over time.  Inaction, in essence, is the wasting of precious time.  We have to take the steps now to make our lives what we want.  We must act as if there is no future tense.  A new action, habit, intention or solution must be made active today to impact tomorrow or it has no true meaning, power, importance or value!  When it comes to really developing your life, it’s not about “having time”… it’s about making your time matter!

everyday_doI will update you on the timely process of publishing our book, but at this crucial time let me give you a few tips that will guide you toward maximizing your own lifestyle potential now.  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about what you want, your priorities and how you manage your time.  Your answers will reflect your lifestyle choices and the changes you may need to make to have the life you want.  Remember, well managed and specifically dedicated time is the most essential element needed to create the life experience you desire and propel you forward…

·      What’s missing in your life?  Really – what do you want that you don’t have?  Is it good health, physical fitness, loving relationships, free time, enrichment, enlightenment, spirituality, wealth, respect, happiness or something else that’s missing in your life?  Define it – and be honest!

·      What’s in the way?  What lies between you and what you really want?  Do you need more education, a teacher or guide, a new perspective or some courage to move forward?  Do you have an ailment, a hang-up, a prejudice, a sense of distrust, low self-esteem or a lack of motivation or focus that’s keeping you stuck and unfulfilled?  Understand your obstacle and you can learn to overcome it! over_the_wall

·      What are your real goals?  Do you have truly strong, crucial desires?  Desire often precedes action and action defines success.

·      What do you do with your free time?  Is it spent in productive pursuits or wasted on distractions?  Does your “free” time make you feel free?  Only you can decide the importance and meaning of your work, playtime, rest time and time dedicated to some goal.

·      What matters most to you?  What are your biggest priorities in life, right now?  Is your lifestyle too busy to attend to things you really care about?  When can you make the time to prepare meals, eat right, exercise, meditate, de-clutter and reorganize your affairs, manage your finances, volunteer, communicate with and take care of those you love and enrich your body, mind and soul?  Taking some time each day to handle all those responsibilities, in an organized way, will bring balance and focus to all you do – so you can do it all.

·      What do you think your lifestyle potential is?  What life can you see yourself living?  How do you attain that dream life without committing some time each day to its realization?  We cannot build our tomorrows on foundations we haven’t laid today. dream_future

·      What was the last major goal you set for yourself and did you achieve it?  We all need something to look forward to in order to be motivated.  If it’s been a while since you’ve challenged yourself by goal setting and taking the necessary steps to reach your goal, you may feel “rusty” and need to practice setting your aims and firing toward a target.

·      progress_perfectionAre you a perfectionist, procrastinator or do you over-prepare when setting a goal?  Are you stuck in a “comfort zone?”  Do you feel responsible for other people’s happiness? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions there are signs that you’re avoiding your own ambitions, making excuses and stalling on moving ahead with your goals, dreams and plans.

·      Do you make yourself accountable or reflect on your progress regularly as you go along your journey of dream realization?  Tracking your efforts and having someone you report to can help you refine your process and stay committed to your purpose.

discipline-1Here are some parts of your lifestyle that may need re-prioritizing to figure out what needs the most help, where changes need to be made and what’s already functioning as you wish and therefore doesn’t need as much attention.  These aspects of living are common to all people but some will be more important to you than others, depending on where you feel you need improvement and advancement in your life.  Here are the 12 keys areas to unlocking your lifestyle potential each day…

1.     Fitness – 20 minutes of sweat everyday will keep your body and mind stress free so you can live healthy, happy and whole!

2.     Nutrition – Planning, preparing and portioning healthy meals to energize your life in 20-30 minutes each day!

3.     Beauty – Taking 10-15 minutes everyday to pamper and beautify yourself with proper hygiene, skin, hair, teeth and nail maintenance.

4.     Wisdom – 10-30 minutes a day of reading, education, brain games, puzzles, meditation or other mind building practices to keep you razor sharp.

5.     Nurturing – 10 or more minutes everyday dedicated to improving your emotional well-being, including self-appreciation, compassion, patience and forgiveness.

21_906.     Soul – Freeing your spirit by finding purpose, passion and power within.  Sometimes a 5-minute prayer is all it takes!

7.     Love – Making a stronger connection with every relationship in your life; checking in with those you love in meaningful ways in minutes a day.

8.     Service – Simple ways to give back and help the world each and every day; getting involved by volunteering, donating and advocating for those in need.

9.     Gratitude – Giving thanks to enhance your happiness; cultivating gratitude by counting your blessings and feeling joy for all you have, everyday.

10. Creativity – Nurturing your inner-child’s need for playtime and structure so you can express yourself in fun, free and fantastically healthy ways.

11. Aspiration – Making time to tend to your career and financial needs so you can plan ahead for wealth, create success, travel to enrich yourself and be of great use and value.

12. Reflection – Leaving some time each day to take stock of your progress and be accountable; journaling, self-coaching and tracking your development.  This includes taking time to “go off the grid,” unplug, disconnect and experience true down-time.

Aristotle_quote_habitThese are well-tested life coaching methods that you can apply to your life to get more organized about how you spend your time and energy and how taking just minutes each and everyday to balance your lifestyle priorities in a holistic way can help you enhance your quality of life.  Leaving any of these aspects neglected or under-developed means short-changing your lifestyle potential.  Giving them some nurturing time each day will help you harness your true power, advance your goals and attain self-fulfillment.  As always, please contact me if you need further information or assistance with these concepts and their application.  I appreciate your comments and wish you the best in maximizing your lifestyle potential.  I hope this post has inspired you to look at how you manage your time and make some changes that will improve the quality of your life.  We’re each given the same amount of time to make our dreams come true – NOW!

Click on this time-trip GIF!
Click on this time-trip GIF!

~Be the master of your destiny… Be the change… Be resolute… Be well!

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Gluten-Free Guide to the Holidays

(See Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe below)

Thanksgiving1Recently I decided to join the gluten-free revolution and eliminate that sticky protein found in wheat, rye and barley products from my diet.  From the Lain for “glue,” gluten gives dough it’s typical elasticity, helping it to rise and keep its shape and gives breads their chewy texture.  As a binding agent, gluten is often added to food, cosmetics, hair products and adhesives to make them thicker and stickier.  Gluten is insoluble in water, which can make it irritate the lining of the digestive tract.  It’s estimated that 12-20 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity or intolerance, a toxic response to gluten, leading to digestive disorders like gas, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and abdominal cramping.  A full-blown, genetically born autoimmune reaction to gluten that damages the small intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients is termed Celiac Disease.  “Celiac” may present itself with symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping and distension, intense fatigue, sleeplessness, headaches, joint pain, skin rashes, tooth decay, reproductive issues, anemia and a wide array of digestive disorders.  An estimated 3 million Americans may be living with Celiac Disease and only 1 in 22 patients is accurately diagnosed.  That’s less than 5% of those who have it who actually know what health problem they’re dealing with!  The only known treatment for Celiac is a gluten-free diet for life.  No pharmaceutical drug can treat it and since the drug companies fund most diagnostic research, they have very little to gain from accurately diagnosing the disease.  But the right foods can be the best medicine for clearing up gluten related health disorders.  I’d like to share my private journey of digestive disorder, discovery and healing so that it may inspire you to adjust your dietary habits this holiday season and improve your overall health and wellness for good.

THE STORY OF MY GUT… THE GLUTEN YEARS

SADchartI decided to go gluten free because my nutritionist friend and I started talking about my past digestive issues, which my gastroenterologist diagnosed as the dreaded “IBS” in 2004.  I had long suffered from bloat, abdominal cramping and distension after I ate, since I was maybe 13 years old.  My stool was rarely solid and sometimes painful to pass.  Hemorrhoids became an issue and my skin would develop heat rashes out of nowhere.  I had Whooping Cough and Candida in high school, over and over, which was treated with every known antibiotic. I suffered from terrible tonsillitis until my tonsils and adenoids were removed at age 21.  My entire digestive tract was raw and my good gut bacteria were decimated.  Much of the immune system resides in the gut and it seemed mine was busted!  I kept eating like a normal teen and twenty-something, downing lots of coffee, pizza and beer throughout college.  I tried to go with the flow and enjoy the Standard American Diet (SAD) of meat, wheat and sweet foods.  But the abdominal pain got worse and lead to long bouts of diarrhea, fatigue and the formation of a fistula – a painful abscess near the anus caused by a strained colon.  It was colonoscopy time!

gut1The doctors proposed possible diagnoses that scared the crap out of me (more puns to come) and said I might have Crohn’s Disease, a debilitating autoimmune disease of the small intestine, or perhaps Ulcerative Colitis or Celiac.  My doctors probed me from stem to stern, scanned me right, left and center and poked and prodded me more times than I care to remember.  They finally had to operate on the fistula.  I sat on a doughnut for a month – still teaching yoga everyday – and took sitz baths while it healed.  It was an ordeal I would never want to endure again – a real, literal, undeniable pain in the ass (irresistible pun)!  They finally decided to label me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the ambivalent umbrella term for digestive disorders that doctors can’t quite diagnose with any certainty.  My diet was never addressed and no intestinal biopsy was taken to determine if indeed I had Celiac, the only sure-fire way to rule it out.  But I got some great pictures of my sigmoid for posterity.  (Okay, that was my final pun!) Unfortunately, aside from surgery or drug intervention, there was little hope the doctor-gods could give me.  I did my own research and decided to totally change my diet and went full-on “Macrobiotic” (think whole foods – grains, teas, fish/seafood and lots of veggies like the Mediterranean or Japanese diet), and supplemented probiotics and digestive enzymes for 9 months!  I fixed my gut, felt a thousand percent better and slowly re-incorporated the coffee, alcohol, starches, sweets and red meat I hated giving up.  Boomerang!  A few years later I had gained 65 lbs., became hypertensive and my tummy revolted again!

sigmoidIn 2012 I got back on track and started eating whole grains like quinoa and steel-cut oats twice a day to lose those 65 lbs. and lower my blood pressure (See my post  – Whole Grains, Whole New Me).  I went back to my yoga practice full time and cut a lot of sugar and red meat out of my diet.  I looked and felt a lot better than I had in years.  I still drank coffee and beer, but only on occasion.  I still ate some pizza, pasta, bread and cereal – but the best, organic brands.  My tummy seemed to be getting better – or at least looked flatter in the morning!  But at night I felt like was going to sleep on a bowling ball.  Then I’d wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all.  Dark circles formed around my eyes and my skin began to rash again.  I had no energy and my digestive bloating and cramping returned with a vengeance.  I was done broaching the issue with doctors so I asked my nutritionist friend what I should do.  She said everything I had described sounded like undiagnosed Celiac or sensitivity to gluten.  She suggested the best way to find out was to eliminate it from my diet and see what changes I noticed.  So began my education in gluten free eating and my process of eliminating that glue-like gunk from sticking to my gut to see if it was making me sick.

So two questions had to be answered: What foods must I avoid?  What CAN I have?  Here’s what I found out and how I altered my diet…

THE OFF-LIMITS GLUTEN FOOD LIST

gluten_foodThe only foods I had to avoid were those containing gluten: wheat, barley, rye and their derivatives.  So regular wheat or grain flour products like most bread, pizza, beer, pasta, crackers, breadcrumbs, croutons and cereal were off the table.  Bran, couscous, farina, graham, panko, semolina, malts, groats, pumpernickel and orzo are buzzwords for foods containing gluten that also have to be avoided.  Soy sauce usually contains gluten.  I knew this would be a challenging diet to start four weeks before Thanksgiving!  What am I, nuts?

THE GO-TO GLUTEN-FREE LIST

go-ahead-its-gluten-freeFor starters, some grains I could indulge in – quinoa, buckwheat, rice, corn, millet and cassava, plus my favorite breakfast food, steel-cut oats – if they’re certified gluten-free (as some oats are grown and processed near wheat which can contaminate them).  All fruits and vegetables are gluten-free.  Untreated meat, poultry, fish and seafood are perfectly fine, but no breading allowed!  Cheese is okay, except for blue cheese, which is grown on bread. Nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, butters, tofu, teas, wines and pure spices are delightfully gluten-free – giving me quite a lot of good foods to choose from.

GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY HINTS

So, finally we get to the challenge of remaining gluten-free through the most gluten-tempting time of the year, when food cravings strike and resistance is low: the holidays!  A time of joyful celebration, gathering together loved ones, unrealistic expectations, compounding stress and extra helpings of rich food and drink.  A recipe for disaster every year – how do we ever make it through?  With humor!  And a vodka tonic or four!!  To me the holidays are about being with family and friends and getting to enjoy their company.  The food, presents and decorations are secondary to feeling good about life and sharing that feeling with those you love.  But the food is going to be there, we’re going to indulge – so why not make the best of our excesses?  Going gluten free or staying on any diet isn’t too difficult if you keep a firm resolve, splurge on the healthy stuff and know what pitfalls to watch out for.

tapioca_flourThe gluten-rich foods to watch out for during the holidays include stuffing/dressing, gravy, mac and cheese, breaded or pasta-laden casseroles and most desserts like cake, pie, cookies and pastries.  Potatoes, mashed, sweet or any way you like them are fine, thank goodness.  Veggies, cranberry sauce, fruit desserts and most alcoholic drinks are gluten-free, except for beer and some whiskey.  Cider and wine are great options when drinking gluten-free.  Ham, roasts and turkey are all good – unless they’ve been stuffed or breaded with non-gluten-free breadcrumbs.  There are great ways to modify and replace those sticky starches with gluten-free alternatives… Mom is making her stuffing with gluten-free breadcrumbs for me this year, which can be found commercially at Whole Foods, your local health food store or in the high-end section of your supermarket.  Thanks, Mom!  Glutino is a reputable brand for gluten-free products.  You can bake with almond, quinoa, rice or tapioca flours.  Gravy can be made with chickpea or buckwheat flour.  There are tons of gluten-free breads on the market nowadays.  Most are better when toasted a bit as their texture is somewhat gummier than regular bread.  Quinoa and brown rice pastas can be a healthy, gluten-free substitute for macaroni-based salads and casseroles.  I’m making my “impossible” crust-free pumpkin pie with tapioca flour this year – it’s quite possibly the yummiest pie I’ve ever baked!  See recipe below…

MY GUT CHECK and TAKE-AWAY

healthyVunhealthy_dietTaking control of your health, digestion, weight and cravings is well within your reach this holiday season.  Going gluten-free, low-carb, low-sugar, vegetarian or any other route with your diet can be challenging but you’re worth the discipline.  For me, going gluten-free has been worth the supposed sacrifice.  My gut has gone flat, I lost 6 lingering lbs. and an inch at my waist, I have more energy, the dark circles around my eyes are gone, my skin has cleared, my head is less foggy and I no longer have the abdominal pain and digestive problems that plagued me only a few short weeks ago.  I had a gluten-free pizza the other day – it was actually pretty tasty.  Lots of restaurants now cater to gluten-free diners – all you have to do is ask about it.  It’s a brave, new, gluten-free world out there.  So no need to be shy about taking your health into your own hands and making yourself feel better.  A gluten-free diet can help stave off other autoimmune disorders like Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis, help minimize the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, thyroid disease, neurological disorders and diabetes and may possibly help prevent reproductive problems, depression and malnutrition.  The gluten-free pros well outweigh the cons.

turkey_pie_workoutI don’t feel I need to be diagnosed anymore.  This process of elimination and my own reason and experience tell me that gluten is not my friend.  Whether I have Celiac or just sensitivity to gluten, I now know how to treat it – by remaining gluten-free.  But if you suspect you suffer from a gluten related disorder or disease, I do suggest asking your doctor for the necessary tests to be sure.  It can’t hurt to clean up your diet, either way.  Remember, without your health, your life becomes very limited.  So be thankful for your good health, care for yourself and those you cook for and treat your body with respect this holiday season and at all times.  Best wishes for happy, healthy and safe celebrations this year with your family, friends and great food, festivity and love.

GLUTEN-FREE CRUST-FREE “IMPOSSIBLE” PUMPKIN PIE RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Organic Cane Sugar

2/3 Stick of 100% Canola Margarine

1 and ½ Cups Evaporated Milk

1 and ½ Cups Cooked Pumpkin (plain, pie filling)

½ Cup Tapioca Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

4 Eggs beaten with a fork/whisk

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

3-4 Tbsp of pure Honey

¼ Tsp each of: ground Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice and Garam Masala spices

pumpkin_pie1Cream sugar and margarine together with a fork or hand blender until evenly blended with no lumps.  Mix in evaporated milk and pumpkin filling evenly.  Add Tapioca flour, baking powder and spices.  Mix in vanilla extract and beaten eggs (works best to combine eggs and vanilla before adding to the mix).  Mix until well blended.  Pour mixture into a greased 10-inch pie pan and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove pie from over before the top browns!  Upon removal, while still warm, drizzle honey on top for a sweet glaze.  Set to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Best if set overnight.  Enjoy sharing and savoring your gluten-free, crust-free custardy pumpkin pie!

whole_food_diet (Similar to Macrobiotic diet).

~Be thankful, be joyful, be free… and be well!

“I’m honest with myself about the reality of what and how I eat.  I choose well so that I can feel well.  The energy in what I eat sustains me and I honor that fact by preparing meals with gratitude, mindfulness and a loving heart.”  ~Nathalie Herrman, author

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Holistic Health Helped by Hypnotherapy

hypnosis_trippyThe use of hypnosis therapy, or hypnotherapy, has been employed for over four hundred years to overcome self-destructive habits, curb phobias, improve sleep, enhance athletic, theatrical and academic performance, instill confidence in public speaking and resolve emotional issues.  In fact, hypnotherapy’s ability to help the mind create new pathways of learning, understanding and relating to one’s self and the world are fairly limitless.  Hypnotherapy is a hypnosis-based therapy designed to resolve undesirable mental, emotional and behavioral habits and empower positive changes in one’s life.  It can also be defined as reprogramming the mind for desired results through a process of induced relaxation, subconscious mental adjustments, confidence-building post-hypnotic suggestions and self-hypnosis tutorial.  If you have a strong desire to overcome draining habits or to improve any facet of your life, hypnotherapy will help you reach your goals.

hypno1Far removed from the dramatic Dracula stare or “Svengali” effect of supposed mind control, hypnosis simply allows access to the subconscious mind (the most child-like, accepting and suggestible part of our consciousness, which may represent up to 90% of our awareness) to be reconditioned and reorganized.  The subconscious is where most of our automatic habits of thought, emotion and action originate, forming in the receptive theta-brainwave period of childhood before age six.  During hypnosis the mind is fully conscious, awake and aware, but very relaxed.  The client or self-hypnosis practitioner is always in complete control of their actions, but highly open to suggestion, much like a child at play.  Relaxing the body and mind progressively allows the subconscious to become the dominant awareness and is thus capable of being rewired so new habits can be created.

hypno_dreamThe dream-like hypnotic trance can be viewed as a state similar to meditation or an artist’s creative flow.  In the state of peaceful serenity, called a hypnotic induction or light trance, which we experience daily as “twilight” awareness when we fall asleep or begin to awaken, we are able to program the mind for any state of being desired.  This mind-over-matter practice applies to all aspects of living and is a fantastically effective way to make improvements to one’s life, including one’s sense of health and happiness and all related habits.  Hypnotherapy can pick up where other physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing practices leave off or can be a more direct road to wellness.  The process of hypnotizing one’s self, called self-hypnosis or autosuggestion, is a reliable way to provide self-help when a quick fix is needed and other modalities fall short.

hypnosis3I have been a practicing certified hypnotherapist, schooled at the Institute of Hypnotherapy in Manalapan, NJ, since 2005.  I’ve helped hundreds of clients to lose weight, stop smoking, overcome phobias and insomnia, improve confidence and concentration in test taking and public speaking and reduce anxiety and depression with an over 95% success rate.  I always tell my clients, “If you have a strong desire to change, I can help you achieve any goal.”  Desire or motivation is the main key to unlocking your potential for change and making positive changes.  We are each truly creatures of habit, but habits can always be broken and then easily replaced by better actions.  Some habits, many of which I named above, need special guidance over several therapeutic sessions from a certified, professional hypnotherapist, licensed counselor or psychotherapist to make the necessary mental breakthroughs so they can be resolved completely.  Chronic conditions like mental illness and behavioral dysfunctions (addictions, eating disorders and other forms of self-abuse, social anxiety and misconduct and depressive disorders) need more specialized mental health counseling that integrative hypnotherapy may be helpful in resolving.  Self-hypnosis should not be considered a substitute for such mental health or medical intervention.  Please contact a medical professional or health care provider if you suffer from any long-term or trauma induced mental, emotional, physical or social disorders. (Click on Black & White Spiral GIF at upper right for hypnotic experience).

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Here is an example of a hypnotherapy script I have written to be used for self-hypnosis, which you can use to enhance your holistic health and sense of wellness…

Please DO NOT attempt the following self-hypnosis practice while driving or operating heavy machinery.

CREATING A HEALTHY BODY, MIND & EMOTIONS

(20-Minute Self-Hypnosis for Living in Radiant Good Health)

hypno_closed_eyesMake sure you’re in a relaxed, quiet position with no distractions around you for the next twenty minutes.  Close your eyes for a moment.  Take two deep breaths and think of your favorite or luckiest number.  As you breathe deeply and think of your lucky number, hold the tips of your thumb and index finger of one hand together like an “okay” sign.  This three-step process (thinking of your lucky number, holding your “okay” sign and taking two deep breaths) will be your everyday self-hypnosis practice to reinforce the following script.  Make sure you exhale completely; feeling deeper relaxed with each breath.  Then you may open your eyes to read the following script, but look at it in a vague, dreamy way, with your eyelids very relaxed, as if you’re about to fall asleep.

yoga_mudra_sunSlowly read the following words aloud to yourself, taking long blinks between each sentence, breathing deeply throughout.  Really allow yourself to feel and imagine the following suggestions, listening to your own voice lulling you, like listening to dear and trusted friend telling you a beautiful, magical story.  At the end of the script you may close your eyes for a while and relax.  You may wind up falling asleep for a short time but will awaken feeling refreshed and energized.  Please set an alarm if you need to awaken at a certain time.  Upon reading and hearing the words, “It is so,” you will have programmed a post-hypnotic suggestion for radiant good health that will sink so deep into your subconscious that nothing and no one will every erase it.  It will make so deep and long lasting an impression in your mind that it will positively change your thoughts, feelings and actions in regards to your health for good.  Also, your lucky number, whenever you think of it, hear it or see it, will reinforce and amplify the positive suggestions your about to read…  Now, take another moment to close your eyes, take two deep breaths, think of your lucky number and make the “okay” sign with your fingers.  Once this is done, open your eyes slowly, maintaining the “okay” sign with your thumb and index finger, and begin to read, relaxing as you go…

hypnosis_clock“My mind has become so sensitive, so receptive to the following suggestions that they will sink so deeply into my subconscious mind and make such a permanent impression there that nothing and no one can challenge or erase them: I am deeply relaxed, calm and serene.  I feel tranquil but empowered to make positive changes in my life, in my health.  I am certain of myself as a peaceful, powerful and prosperous person.  I attract only good, healthful experiences to myself and I feel good.  I radiate good health and positive energy.  I’m getting healthier everyday.  I’m becoming slim and trim.  My muscles are feeling toned and strong and my bones are sturdy and supportive.  My joints are feeling flexible and free.  The blood in my veins is flowing gently, nourishing every part of me.  I move through life with ease.  I am attractive.  My skin and hair are beautiful.  My eyes are bright and full of life.  I hear my breath clearly, calmly slowing down now.  I see myself as the Universe does: radiantly healthy, beautiful, perfect, whole and complete in every way.  I’m now thinking “thin” and making the right decisions to keep my body happy and healthy.  I’m willing to give up that which I no longer need to have the health I want.  I am willing to change, heal and grow.  I accept good health as my natural state of being…

breathe_tree_lungsI breathe deeply with ease.  I appreciate the many wonders of my incredible body, brilliant mind, beating heart and beautiful spirit.  I have abundant energy and wake up each morning refreshed and full of enthusiasm for the day ahead.  I take time each morning to count my blessings, set my goals and prepare my body and mind for the day.  I enjoy exercising and taking time for myself to stretch, move, breathe and play.  Challenging myself makes me feel good.  I feel more confident challenging myself to feel better each day.  Food is my fuel and I supply my body with only the best fuel so I feel the best energy and I only eat what I need, easily feeling satisfied and relaxed by the healthiest foods and most moderate portions.  I eat the best foods for my digestion and energy and never need to overeat.  I never need to indulge in foods I know will make me feel less than my best.  I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water everyday.  I eliminate waste from my body regularly, easily and completely.  I let go of any foods or eating habits that are out of synch with my optimum health…

broad_selfI sleep peacefully through the night every night and wake up feeling on top of the world each day.  I know how to relax and rest my body, mind and emotions.  I have a great attitude and sense of humor about life and allow stress to bounce off and away from me.  I know how to feel happy and I feel happier all the time.  I love to feel pleasure and enjoy being playful.  I enjoy my body and the many aspects of my sexual nature.  Feeling good is a natural state for me.  I enjoy my mind and my imagination.  I take time each day to visualize my best possible future and my healthiest, happiest life.  I’m learning how to meditate on feeling good.  It’s getting easier for me to envision my body and my health as beautiful, perfect, whole and complete.  I see myself as more radiant everyday.  Everyday I do activities that make me feel stronger and more energetic.  I create my health with actions and choices that support and empower my fitness and wellness goals…

yoga_sunriseI nourish my body-mind temple and listen to its messages of moderation and temperance.  I love my body, mind and emotions and I treat them with honor and respect.  I am energy in motion!  What I believe, I will achieve.  So I believe my radiant, good health is the substance and supply of my wellness.  I am the cause and effect of my being happy, healthy, wealthy, wise and well.  I create the physical shape, fitness, soundness and well-being I desire.  I allow my body to be a full expression of love, joy, peace and prosperity.  I rejoice in my good health and feel grateful for being healthy.  I release any old, limiting beliefs about my health, diet, mobility, genetics or aging.  I let go of any thought form, image or action that doesn’t support my perfect health.  I let go of the past and I am free from any feelings that don’t fully support my complete wellness.  I feel good and my life is truly a blessing.  My energy continues to grow and I come to live the positive patterns of health I want, need and deserve.  I am one with my own power, my special gift to the world and I feel blissful and full of life!  I live a vigorous, loving life and I love my body and my life more than ever!  My self-hypnosis practice and my lucky number (_) reinforce these truths and the most positive part of me guarantees I will take action on feeling fantastically healthy and being the healthiest, most confident, radiant and vibrant me I can be.  And so it is, all is truly well in my world.  And it is so!”

~Awaken, enlighten and empower yourself… and be well!

self-hypno_zzz

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You, Unlimited

(See Visualization Exercises at bottom of post)

enthusiasmHave you ever noticed that some people rarely, if ever, stand in their own way of achieving personal progress and professional success?  How some people are ever so willing to take chances and assume the best will come their way, no matter what obstacles they face?  Isn’t their confidence and self-assuredness infectious, inspiring and even intimidating at times?  Don’t you sometimes wish you had 10% of their faith in themselves? Ever notice how other people respond to challenges, risks and facing the unknown poorly, with minimal confidence or self-esteem?   If you’re like most people, you are painfully aware of your own limitations.  In fact, feeling confident and secure with yourself and your abilities may be a fairly foreign concept to consider.  Far too many of us allow our limitations, our concepts of what we can and can’t do in life, to define what actions we will or won’t take to reach our potential and secure our dreams.  But, like so many parts of our identity, our supposed limits are based on our skewed individual perspectives and subjective personal perceptions.  Power, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and must be held to know.

power2Personal power, a measure of self-worth, is the essential element of one’s belief in one’s self to persevere through difficulties and achieve any goal.  If you believe you have a lot of power, you believe you can achieve almost anything.  If you think you have a limited ability to make changes in your life or in the world, chances are you probably won’t attempt to do so.  If you believe you can influence, mold and create your life as you wish it to be, you’ll find ways to fulfill that desire by taking action, without any fear or trepidation of what obstacles you’ll face.  Even if you are afraid, you know you’ll conquer your demons and triumph over adversity because you trust and have faith in your talents, skills and gifts so deeply.  Whereas, if you don’t trust that you can risk the obliteration of your security, you probably won’t test your limits, reach for success or chance the possibility of failure.

power1Power means different things to different people.  For some, power is related to physical strength or prowess.  Others find power in wealth and influence.  Still others see intelligence, talent and experiential wisdom as their power.  All are valid forms of power, but there are other ways to be powerful in the world and develop great self-confidence and security.  Some are positive in their scope, others rely on negative qualities to express themselves.  Most power is limited, but some has limitless potential for creating good.

power_freedomIf you want something and you use your emotional pull on others to get it, that’s a negative, self-centered and limited form of influential power.  Anyone who’s had to deal with a demanding friend, an aloof co-worker or “victim-martyr” type relative knows this to be true.  Such pitiful “power” is always taken from another person and lacks any generosity of spirit.  Their sway over your good nature can only last so long before you resent them and deny them the power they seek to hold over you.  A positive, expansive and relatively limitless form of power to use in achieving your goals is spiritual power, the power we receive from prayer, meditation and self-development.  Asking more of yourself, making yourself into a bigger person to match greater challenges and transforming yourself to reach your potential by sheer will creates a stronger character that can achieve greater results.  Connecting with your higher self, the greatest and best part of you, to make your life better is indeed a spiritual pursuit and relies on no one but yourself and your relationship with the creative forces of the universe to manifest your good fortune.

mind_treeThere are other forms of power that have some unavoidable limits but hold great potential for personal development when they are fully realized.  Self-control is one.  The ability to see that your power is limited to your control over your thoughts, feelings and actions can actually free you to let go of expectations, assumptions and unhealthy desires in the material world of things and relationships.  Being responsible for your words, deeds and health sets others free to control their lives and releases you from any need to have them behave in any certain way.  You can control your health through good nutrition, a sold fitness routine, regular sleep and rest periods and a positive mindset.  You have power over yourself – your body, mind, emotions and actions – nothing more and nothing less, which is a great blessing, a relief and a terrific responsibility.

broad_goals_TRobbinsYou have no real control or responsibility over how others live their lives.  All you can do is be a positive influence and good example or model and hope they compliment your energy.  The rest you can let go, and that is a blessing.  You can also control your feelings, your emotions, how you react to others.  It may not always feel that way, but you can decide how much you allow yourself to become raveled up in someone else’s drama or react defensively if riled.  You can control many of your relationships – how close they are, how long they last and if they should be part of your life.  If a relationship isn’t adding to your existence maybe it shouldn’t remain a connection.  Aspects of your ambition can be controlled, like your commitment, resolve, enthusiasm, dedication and devotion to pursuing your goals.  The power of your will, if you direct it, can produce wonders.  If you squander your will to take action, you will face a lifetime of walls.

imagination1Your mind is under your control.  A powerful mindset is the most valuable asset you can develop.  Without harnessing the power of your mind, little else is achievable.  Your imagination has great power and you can hone it into visionary genius or waste it on worries, frets and fears.  You can control your level of knowledge and education.  Ignorance is also in your control.  Your reputation and honor is under your control.  Are you reliable, honest, dignified and faithful?  What you put your attention on is in your power.  Do you focus on completing admirable activities or point your mind at pointless pursuits?  Your level of gratitude can be a powerful asset.  A thankful heart is often amply rewarded.  Your energy and effort are also powerful strengths.  The more you put in, the more you’re bound to get out of your investment.  But all these things are somewhat limited.  The most limiting power we have to make positive changes on earth is time.  You only get so many turns around the sun to make your mark, so how you spend your time is a power that matters in the finite.  The least limited power you hold in this life is faith.  “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed… you can move mountains.”  Faith makes the impossible possible.  The greater your faith, the greater the challenge you can overcome.  Faith can be a limitless power and can make you feel unlimited in your ability to change, learn, heal and grow.  Faith will help you let go of your limitations.  You must be willing to let go of those barriers before you can move on and realize your potential.

Arelius_Mind_Power2Confidence, success and a winning attitude aren’t magical, easy or inborn qualities.  They are nurtured by trial, error and retrial.  Only through the application of courage under fire can confidence grow and become one of your defining characteristics.  Feeling a sense of power in your life is like building a muscle.  The more you use your power to overcome resistance, the stronger that power gets.  Your limitations are only what you think they are.  What happened to you in the past is not what defines you.  It was all just a story, a way your mind came to understand your circumstances in order to protect and defend you, to keep you safe.  And you have the power to change your mind!  There are more important things in life than being safe.  Like exploring your truth, defying your limits and owning up to your power before you’re forced to look back in regret.

faith_mustard_seedYou choose your path, of whatever level of resistance you decide you can handle.  You decide your identity – as a victim or victor.  There really is no good or bad direction, only a neutral universe on which you impress your perception and outlook.  Your attitude is the forerunner of your success.  Ultimately, you are the CEO of You, Incorporated.  Why not make the executive decision to move past your self-imposed, self-limiting ideas and behaviors and choose to be the strongest, wisest, most attractive and capable person you can be?  Why not have faith and believe that you are a beautiful, brilliant, blessed and majestic being?  Why not accept and own your true power to create, to choose your own path?  The responsibility is yours, whether you choose to take those reigns or not.  Will you let the lies of fear and self-doubt guide you into mediocrity and obscurity or shall the truth of love and self-respect lead the way to your brightest, fullest potential and best destiny?

Here are two visualization exercises to help you uncover your power to achieve personal and professional greatness:

The Wall – A Perspective

Close your eyes and take a couple deep breaths.  Then imagine your biggest problem, issue or limitation as a wall in front of you, no more than a few feet away.  Can you see what it looks like?  Notice its color and texture, what its made of, how tough it seems and how tall or wide it appears to be.

Now, step 20 large paces backward, away from the wall.  Count those 20 steps before you look back at the wall.  What does the wall look like now?  It’s much smaller isn’t it?  You may not be able to see where it begins or ends.  It may have large cracks in it or even holes, places where it’s crumbling apart.  Maybe you can see it does terminate at some bend.  Or someone has dug a tunnel underneath it at one part or has set up a ladder to climb over it.  There are ways through that wall.

On the other side of the wall you can see a beautiful green pasture with flowers, trees and endless possibilities.  Difficulties are surmountable, as long as we can gain a healthy perspective and find ways of working around them.  Empower yourself to see and live beyond your supposed limitations.  Take bold action to gain greater confidence and your walls will become stepping-stones to success.

limitations-copy

You, Unlimited – The Vision

Imagination is one of our greatest powers and is fairly unlimited in its scope.  For a moment, make believe you are a magician or wizard.  You have the ability to conjure up any reality you desire.  Now, look into a mirror in your mind.  Make sure it’s a large mirror so you can see yourself and the panorama surrounding you.  Waive your magic wand and cast a spell.  One by one create the circumstances you wish to have in your life, the reality you desire, all around you and within you.  Imagine the beautiful body and health you want as real.  Create the education, career, wealth and finances you desire in this vision.  See the loving, joyful relationships, fabulous experiences, the freedom, success and legacy you want as solid parts of your life.  All the material possessions you ever wanted are there, too.  Keep imagining all these good things in your master vision until you’re satisfied with how it looks.

Now, with that vision seeming like a dream come true, begin to FEEL yourself living as that person – unlimited, grateful and beaming with happiness!  Let your heart and emotions become completely wrapped up in the reality of what you’ve created and let it feel really good, all over your body.  Take at least 30 seconds to soak in and experience the fullness of your ecstatic appreciation and bliss for what you have conjured up as your holographic, dreamlike reality.  Smile from ear to ear for those 30 seconds or more and then slowly open your eyes and take that positive feeling with you to brighten your day and enlighten your path toward the most unlimited version of you that has been made possible by your envisioning and feeling the vibrations of that potential actualization.  This experience becomes a part of you and will guide you to greater explorations of success and happiness.  Repeat often!

power3

“Don’t hide your light under a bushel.”

~Be bold, be unlimited… be well!

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Exercise Essentials: 5, 10 & 20 Minute Workouts

woman_flexTaking time everyday to get in regular exercise can be more than challenging these days with so many demands put upon us.  In fact, it can feel like a down right chore!  Even though we know that we need proper nutrition, activity and rest to lead a balanced life and stay healthy, often our priorities get shifted and those essential components of wellness get pushed to the wayside.  If you leave out or skip a day of exercise because it’s inconvenient or you get too busy you’re ultimately shortchanging your health and missing out on an opportunity to relieve stress and live more vibrantly.

feel_good_exerciseWorkouts are meant to give you energy, not take it away.  You always feel better when you’ve put in the effort and pour out some sweat.  Can you ever remember saying to yourself after a good bout of exercise, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t done that!”  So if the effort and energy aren’t the problem, why do we skip exercise sometimes, even though we know it makes us feel great?  When we feel we have to leave out a workout from our busy schedules the real issue is usually time management.  Somehow we have to incorporate exercise as an essential part of our daily, habitual routine and give it the priority it deserves as a central component to living, to one’s lifestyle.

simple-ways-to-get-exerciseWhen time is compressed (when isn’t it?) there are still very effective ways to get in your exercise and re-energize yourself daily.  Yes, the best-case scenario is daily exercise.  Our bodies are made to move, designed for activity, not sedentary living.  Just look at how the body reacts to long-term hospital stays or palliative care.  Muscles atrophy and lose most of their mass within weeks, joints stiffen and bedsores set in – all simply because the body is unable to move much.  Again, exercise shouldn’t be seen as optional or as a chore.  It can become one of the most fun aspects of your life!

suck_it_upHealthy activities can energize you for your whole day, beat stress, help you digest food better and allow for a peaceful rest at night.  I honestly believe the twitching and discomfort associated with “Restless Legs Syndrome” comes from nerves in the legs firing as if to ask their owner, “please walk me!”  We sit too much all day, at work, at our computers and in traffic.  So getting up and remaining active for at least a little while each day is more imperative than ever.  But here’s the beauty of what I’m suggesting – you only have to exercise for a few minutes everyday!  That’s right!!  In twenty, ten or even five minutes at a time (if you’re consistent) you can build up a daily workout routine and stay committed to it without shirking your other commitments (I don’t mean Youtube or the boob tube)!  Let me tell you how…

daily_exerciseI want to give you a few tips to get you started and then I’m going to walk you through a few simple workouts you can do at home, in the park or even on your lunch break so you can begin the journey of making daily exercise part of your lifestyle and reap all the inherent benefits.  Here’s a tip: Did you know that flexibility training should comprise 20-30% of your whole workout regimen?  If you’re committing an hour to each day’s workout, that’s 12-18 minutes of stretching.  Flexibility increases muscle strength by 30-40% and staves off joint pain and cramping.  Strength training should always be done after flexibility work and should comprise 40-60% of your total workout time.  Training your musculature with weight bearing keeps you strong, energetic and youthful, increases bone density and sets your metabolic rate.  If you want to lose weight – gain muscle!  Lastly, cardiovascular training should come last and comprises only 30-40% of your total workout.  Doing cardio last gives you the energy stores to test your endurance.  Shorter bursts of cardio training are often more beneficial than doing long cardio bouts because of energetic burn, muscle loss, metabolic shifts and increases in stress hormones associated with endurance training.  Yes, doing too much cardio can make you lose muscle and retain fat!  Again, that’s why strength training is so essential to staying fit, slim and energized.  Now, a few questions for you…

mouse_workoutFirst, answer this for yourself: when are you most likely to devote any time to your workout?  Is it in the morning, perhaps pretty early on?  Most business people and professionals prefer this option so they get it done and “out of their way” so they have energy to move on through the rest of their often highly stressful day.  Or is the late morning/early afternoon a better fit for your lifestyle?  Full-time moms or those with part-time jobs and seniors often prefer this time slot for exercise, when the kids are at school and traffic is lighter.  Or maybe you’re an evening exerciser?  I’m a bit of a night owl myself and often like an evening workout to re-energize me for the night or to sweat out the stress of the day.  A lot of people like to do their workouts right after work for the same reasons.  My best advice: make sure the gym or sports venue is between where you live and work so you have to pass it – or you may just skip it!  So, now that you’ve decided when you’re most likely to work out, you’ll want to figure out what form of exercise suits you best…

sports_suggestionsWhat kinds of activities do you enjoy doing?  I love yoga, group fitness, weight lifting, stair climbing, waking, jogging, sprinting, swimming and hiking.  You might not like any of those options and so you’d be less likely to engage in them or any exercise if I said you had to pick from that list.  Customizing your own workout based on your interests is a great way to ensure daily activity.  If you like to garden, which is a fantastic way to stay flexible and bear your own body weight to build strength, then gardening a bit everyday would be a terrific prescription to keep you active.  Trying new activities to see if they’re a good fit for you is another excellent strategy for staying fit.  Variety is more than the spice of life; it’s the hallmark of a diverse, dynamic and well-rounded workout!  The body appreciates adjusting to a challenge and the mind can get bored easily.  Keeping your body guessing while your mind is entertained can help you discover more ways to move, breathe and sweat on a regular basis.

Now we know when, how and probably where you’re going to exercise.  Let me walk you through some short sample workouts so you can begin framing your own exercise routines to your lifestyle.  Try these suggestions:

20-Minute Functional Exercise Workout

Bodyweight_workoutAlternate the suggested weight bearing strength exercises for one-minute each with one-minute cardiovascular exercises as suggested.  Then feel free to switch them around and mix them up, as you prefer.  Keep it fun, interesting and creative!  Click on the chart to the right for more cardio options:

(With a three, five or ten lb. dumbbell weight in each hand per strength exercise…)

1. Strength: Squat and stand.  Repeat for one minute or 20-30 repetitions.

(Set down your weight after each strength exercise to perform cardio…)

2. Cardio: Do jumping jacks for one minute.  Any pace is fine!

weighted_lunge3. Lunge in place, alternating legs with weights held at your sides.

4. Cardio: Mountain climbers with your hands stationary on the floor, alternating feet.

5. Strength: Weighted stiff-leg deadlift (see Dennyzen on Facebook for details).

6. Cardio: High-knee march, bringing knees up to navel or palms held at waist height.

7. Strength: Sumo or straddle squat, with feet wide apart, hips/knees open, holding the weight in front of the groin with straight arms.

8. Cardio: Squat thrusts or “half-burpees” (See chart).

9. Strength: Calf-raises, on a step or simply lifting to the balls of the feet, weights in hands held by your sides with straight arms.

10. Cardio: Arabesque leg extensions to the rear, lifting your leg from the hip, squeezing your gluteus.  Looks like a kick backwards.  Alternate legs.

11. Strength: Chest/bench press, flat on the floor, a ball or a bench, keeping thumbs lined up with the mid-line of the chest horizontally.

12. Cardio: Pushups, from the knees or feet, like a chest press but upside-down and bearing your own body weight.  Start with a few and work on your form.

13. Strength: Chest flies or “tree-huggers,” palms/knuckles of both hands face each other as you squeeze the pectoral (chest) muscles together.

prone-floor-cobra14. Cardio: Prone extensions or “cobras,” lying on the abdomen, reach hands apart and backward toward your hips as you thrust the hips into the floor to lift your torso.

15. Strength: Shoulder press, standing or seated, raising weights over your shoulders.

16. Cardio: Plank, resting forearms on the floor while balanced on the balls of the feet.  Hold the pose or start marching, keeping the abdomen tight, hips in line with shoulders.  You may lift and lower the hips in a thrusting motion, called “dolphin.”

17. Strength: Tricep press, weights overhead or on each side with a “kickback” motion outside hips like pushing ski poles.  Focus on contracting rear muscles of the upper arms.

18. Cardio: Bench or chair dips, balancing on hands squarely set under the shoulders, knees bent with buttocks off the front of the chair or bench, bending elbows only.

19. Strength: Bicep curls with dumbbells, alternating or combined, keeping weight below the chest with elbows behind the ribs.

20. Cardio: Bicycle crunches, supine hip thrusts/bridges or any quick moving abdominal exercise into a cool-down stretch on the floor.

*Twenty exercises, one minute apiece, for twenty minutes, non-stop.  You’ll love it!

Jefferson_Do_It

10-Minute Push-Pull Workout for Toning

Alternate “pulling” and “pushing” exercise for ten minutes.  This sequencing provides the best parts of muscular flexion and extension exercises for a thorough strength training session in a short amount of time.  Again, there are no rests between exercises, so your heart rate goes up quickly and your metabolism will spike for hours after this intensive session, helping you burn calories longer.  Great for weight loss goals since the basic equation for reducing fat storage is to burn more calories than you’re ingesting.  One minute per exercise.  Eat about 45 minutes after this workout to feed your muscles and watch them grow lean and toned.

Keep a dumbbell in each hand throughout this ten minute routine except for pushups and dips.  Hold them closer to your body for legwork.

1. Push: Seated single (or double) leg presses (bending knees) for one minute.

2. Pull: Seated single (or double) leg lifts (straight legs) for one minute.

3. Push: Pushups from the knees, feet or on a bench, one minute, no weights.

4. Pull: Bench/chest press with dumbbells perpendicular to the spine, one minute.

5. Push: Bench dips, bending the elbows, no more than a 45% angle, no weights.

6. Pull: Skiers squat with bent-over rows, holding dumbbells, pulling up.

7. Push: Standing or seated shoulder press, pushing dumbbells overhead.

8. Pull: Woodchoppers from the sides going across the body’s mid-line or overhead, chopping through the legs.  Works with dumbbells, cables or a kettle bell.

9. Push: Bicep curls with dumbbells or a barbell, keep your elbows behind your ribs.

10. Pull: Upright rows, combined with sumo squats for more dynamic movement, make sure elbows lift outside the ears each time you row upwards.

youre_worth_it

10-Minute Flexibility/Yoga Workout (see link)

hooping-image-hoopnotica

5-Minute Energy Burst Workout

When your energy is sapped and you need a surge of endorphins but you don’t have enough time to get a “runner’s high” try this quick 5-minute routine to re-energize!

1. One-minute weighted run.  Hold one dumbbell (or two dumbbells together) or a weight plate in front of your chest and jog or run, lifting your knees for 60 seconds.

2. One-minute weighted squats.  Holding weights at your sides or close to the chest, do regular, skier’s or sumo squats for 60 seconds.

3. One-minute alternating or walking lunges.  Holding weights at your sides, do forward, reverse or side lunges, alternating in place or walking them for one minute.

4. One-minute jumping jacks and squat thrusts (half-burpees), alternating five at a time.  Mountain climbers and burpees can be substituted.  One minute!

5. One-minute pushups.  Incline, decline or flat, from the knees, feet or on a bench, at any pace, keep pushups going for a solid sixty seconds.  You’ll feel so strong!

54321_workout  caloric_burn

5-Minute Stress Buster Workout

If your day has been long and arduous and your back feels like a coat of armor you’ll want to take a few minutes to unwind and transition from work to playtime.  This workout is perfect for business people coming home after battling their commute who’d rather pour a glass of wine and veg out but know that a stretch will help them shed their day, digest their dinner and drift more easily into dreamland.

1. One-minute down-dog yoga pose with deep breathing, keeping hips high, looking toward the navel.  Alternating a runner’s stretch to loosen the hamstrings is advisable.  This stretches the entire posterior of the body from the base of the skull to the soles of the feet (where most stress-induced tension resides).

2. One-minute child’s pose (or folded leaf), on the knees, sitting on the feet, resting the torso on the thighs, folded forward so the head and arms drop toward the floor.  This stretches the back, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees and feet and allows the head and arms to rest after a long day of activity and holding that down-dog!

3. One-minute alternating child’s pose with up-dog pose, hands planted on the floor or yoga mat, thrusting hips forward toward the wrists out of child’s pose then sinking hips back into child’s pose.  Keep swinging forward and back, exhaling into each pose, inhaling in between.  This thrusting action will loosen the lower back and hips and help the body feel relaxed with rhythmic, oxygenating breaths.

4. One-minute alternating knee hugs.  Turn onto the back and extend the legs.  Hug one knee to your chest then alternate on your exhalations.  You may end this with hugging both knees and rocking on the spine and then extending the arms and legs apart for a supine stretch to loosen any kinks along the spine or pelvis and lengthen the major joints so you’re free of work and traffic tension.

5.  One-minute alternating bridge pose with double knee hug.  Place feet and palms flat on the floor/mat and lift your buttocks off the floor, thrusting your hips toward the ceiling, keeping heels under the knees and the head, neck and shoulders flat on the floor for bridge pose.  Then lower the spine slowly and hug both knees to the chest for a few breaths.  Alternate and repeat several times until you feel relaxed and take a few moments of quiet, restful stillness until you notice your stress has evaporated with each exhale.

fftbriskwalkingbenefits1If you haven’t enough time or energy to commit to the above routines – make the time and you’ll wind up with more energy for having done the workout!  But if nothing else, go for a walk around your neighborhood to stimulate your cardio response.  People used to walk everywhere – to the store, the post office, to see their neighbors, even to work.  Now we rely on our cars way too much and our waistlines are paying for the convenience.  Walking has tremendous and well known health benefits but also helps clear the mind and calm the central nervous system.  So, go walking with a friend or by yourself to settle your nerves, digestion and evacuate stress from your body.  Connect with nature as you take in the scenery and breathe some fresh air.  Hiking, biking, dancing, swimming, kayaking, jumping rope, trampolining or playing any physical game or sport are other creative and fun ways to stay active everyday.

keep_exercisingI hope that these time-conscious but thorough routines and suggestions are helpful in making your commitment to daily exercise more manageable.  Remember, it’s your life, you decide your lifestyle – how you spend your time, energy and activity.  Make great choices that will keep you happy, healthy and well for years to come!  I’m always excited to hear about your progress or answer any questions you may have about my posts.  Please contact me anytime… stay active and be well!

 

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Not fear? Fear not…

Twain_CourgaeI find it so interesting that the emotion of fear, a feeling meant to protect us from harm, can paralyze us and prevent us from experiencing the fullness of our life’s potential.  I also find it fascinating that fear is so closely related to the emotion of excitement.  When we want something, we get excited about it.  So having a strong desire for an experience or thing can make you feel a bit edgy.  Often channeling that desire into action can help you overcome the emotion that may be misinterpreted as fear, anxiety or apprehension.  If you feel fear but there’s no basis for being afraid other than having a new experience, learning or growing somehow, then what you’re feeling really isn’t fear – it’s excitement – the thrill of trying something new or attaining your desired goal!  Daring to stare fear in the face and overcome it makes you stronger.  You expand your possibilities and defy your limits every time you remind fear who’s boss – you!  deepest-fear-pictureJust because something is unknown doesn’t mean it’s unsafe or necessarily worth being scared of.  Surprises can be wonderful.  So, the next time you’re afraid of something new ask yourself, “Isn’t this really exciting?” and give yourself permission to try it and see how it makes you feel.  You never fail when you allow yourself the chance to succeed.  Learning to fly means being willing to fall.  Never fight your instincts, never freeze your will and never flee from a challenge.  Learn to take courage by mastering your emotions and knowing them well.  If it’s not likely fear that you’re feeling… Fear not!

feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway

 

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Dream On!

dreamer1

Never discount the power and value of your dreams…

Dreams become goals… Goals become plans… Plans become actions…

Actions become manifestations of reality…

dreams_come_true

Dreams are just as real as anything else in life… They are actual things, like sunlight and shadow, wind and rain…

They are as real as seeds and when we water them with time, effort, energy and faith…

They become bright flowers and mighty trees.  All good things have their roots in imagination!

dream_faith

So dream on and keep your hopes alive by taking small steps and having big beliefs…

Plant the seeds of wishing, water them everyday and see what beauty blossoms…

Dream deeply, broadly and wildly, making reality match your desires… confident your visions will be met.

Become a catcher of dreams… hold your dreams dearly and do what you must to make them visible to all… so your light may shine on the world!

~DJ

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Press On!

heart+handsI want to share I poem I wrote almost ten years ago when I completed my advanced, “initiate level” certification in the Isabell Gatto Method (IGM) of therapeutic acupressure.  It illustrates how healing touch and human kindness can change a person’s life for the better, as it did mine.  If you’ve never experienced a session of acupressure before, I highly recommend it.  As a practitioner, I have learned unique lessons of empathy, compassion, patience and appreciation for the human condition, in all it’s myriad expressions, and that we are all struggling with something personal and often deeply painful that we often need help to relieve.  That’s what acupressure does – it relieves pain and suffering and helps the body to heal itself.

Holding handsWhat could be a more profound and joyful service than to provide the release of another human being’s emotional or physical pain while they rest in your caring hands?  The human hand holds incredible power, both creative and destructive.  We rarely stop to consider what our hands do all day.  They feed and bathe us.  They clean, cook, drive, dress, play, pay, type, write, work, pray and point the way.  They caress, comfort and soothe.  They wipe away tears and they pat us on the back.  They free us and bind us.  They hold the door, the elevator and the keys.  At times they hold each other and in blessed moments they hold another.  They give, receive and share.  They also heal, as if by magic, with loving warmth and generosity.

Egyptian_HealingTherapeutic acupressure is an incredible way to beat stress and find an even keel in everyday life.  But it’s application for pain relief is almost limitless.  It is the grandfather of all the energetic healing modalities, including Reflexology, Reiki and acupuncture.  A modern form of complimentary medicine, it is considered the oldest of the healing arts, having its origins in ancient China and India.  Egyptian hieroglyphics also depict priests and healers applying acupressure on injured and diseased patients, going back nearly five thousand years BCE.  Being a hands-on application, the practitioner and patient are involved in each others energy fields and a direct exchange of energetic information is shared.  It is related to the Western spiritual practice called “the laying on of hands,” which provides similar stress and pain relieving effects.  It is considered a valuable healing tool for surgical patients both pre- and post-op and works terrifically with accident victims and those suffering from sports related injuries.

acu_meridiansA typical session is performed on a massage table, fully clothed, with light to moderate fingertip pressure applied to specific pressure points (or reflex/trigger points – called “tsubos” in Japanese) throughout the body.  The ordered sequence of points accessed or “triangulated” allows the patient’s body to balance the flow of vital life force energy, called “Chi” in Chinese, “Prana” in Sanskrit or “Ki” in Japanese.  Subtle energy pathways in the body, known as “meridians” are relieved of blockages caused by stress, illness or injury that cause discomfort, dysfunction and eventually lead to disease.  When this balance is achieved and the energetic channels are reopened, the body literally begins to heal itself.  This creates a feeling of oneness, peace and harmony in the body as internal pressures and stagnant emotions are released.  The result is a relief of mental, physical and emotional pain.

hands_on1The time tested Isabell Gatto Method (IGM) of therapeutic acupressure combines the best of Eastern traditional acupressure technique, Reflexology, Jin Shin Jyutsu and Shiatsu with Western understanding of modern stress relief.  When I learned the method at William Paterson University I was looking for hands-on therapy to calm my nerves and relieve a “walking anxiety” I had been dealing with for years, that only my yoga practice had helped me to cope with, but that needed more attention.  I received a session and was immediately hooked.  As many of my clients have also attested through the years, I discovered myself to be so profoundly relaxed at the end of the session that I wondered, “Have I ever relaxed this deeply?”  Since then I went through three levels of certification to learn as much as I could about this seemingly magical and intensely effective form of stress, tension and pain relief.

light_shineWhile in practice in New Jersey I had the privilege of helping a colon cancer survivor find pain relief from her chemo and radiation therapies; helping a brain cancer survivor regain normal vision after years of living with a wandering eye; and helping to rehabilitate a diabetic patient suffering from neuropathy.  I helped a dear friend regain feeling in her extremities after a stroke.  I assisted my mother-in-law in her recovery from a difficult open-heart valve replacement surgery.  I even had the opportunity and privilege to help my father prepare for and recover from a series of complicated neck surgeries that he almost didn’t survive.  I have also been able to apply acupressure to pets, including my cats when they’ve been ill and to help them pass on when their lives came to and end.  I assure you, it was an incredible experience helping them move peacefully into the next world.  I still apply the technique to friends and family today, much to our shared joy and elation.

press_onI have witnessed and experienced this unique and thorough alternative method of therapy applied to reverse infertility, improve nerve function, reduce anxiety and depression, increase immune response, overcome emotional disorders, rehabilitate serious injuries, help addicts recover from substance abuse, relieve digestive and eating disorders and bring comfort to the terminally ill and palliative care patients, for which its application has been implemented into hospitals nationwide under the guidance and review of the NIH.  IGM Therapeutic Acupressure is truly astonishing in it’s range of applications and effectiveness.  It’s incredible work, both to give and receive!  The IGM family of practitioners is also like an extended family to me.  That is why I wrote the following poem. I hope you find it as meaningful and healing as I felt while writing it.  Becoming a practitioner and providing such care has been a big part of my spiritual growth.  I’m proud to say Isabell Gatto still reads it to her graduating practitioners to this day.  May it also inspire you to “press on” and help others fight the good fight – for life, love and peace.

be_kind2

 

IGM Poem (2004)

 

To clear the confusion, matter is but an illusion… only patterns of energy exist.

Balance its flow and let yourself go… It only hurts more to resist.

 

Within our hands we hold a key to help unlock anothers Chi…

We become a channel for their healing.

Awakening the Higher Self, restoring a sense of health…

Releasing while embracing blessed feeling.

 

These days it can be confusing, stressful to be living.

We try to be brave in a world so unforgiving…

It’s hard to keep looking for the light!

Gratitude, empathy and patience is the way,

Healing touch and human caring spreading everyday…

It’s far better to be kind than to be right!

 

Sharing this gift with you angels, ascending,

My soul struck a chord – my heart began mending…

I found great courage in your welcoming kindness.

To express the beauty and goodness that is me,

Doubtless I am rich, moreover I am free!

At last, I can trust and recover from my blindness.

 

Your hands of light that held my pain

Saved my heart, released it’s chain…

Giving back my spirit to me whole.

Oh, special kindred friends,

Your love truly has no end…

It’s the power and the glory in your soul!

 

So I’ve learned we cannot be frozen by our woes,

Karma is a teacher and so the lesson goes…

We live to learn and grow, in short, to self-discover.

Find your simple peace, mind your mind and thus be clear,

Daily miracles can happen when you cast away your fear…

And allow your soul to be your greatest lover.

 

To close, I give thanks and praise,

By all of you I am amazed…

At all you so generously give.

Never forget each life that you inspire,

From this great endeavor, never retire…

You have shown me what it really means to live.

 

~DJ

IsabellGatto *Isabell Gatto and her daughter, Maria.

For more information about IGM Therapeutic Acupressure Intentional Wellness technique and to find a practitioner in your area, go to: IGM.

hands_of_light

I also recommend Barbara Ann Brennan’s book on energetic therapy and hands-on healing, “Hands of Light” by Bantam Press and Dr. Richard Gerber’s book on subtle-energy therapies throughout history, “Vibrational Medicine” by Bear and Company.

human_energy_field

Be well… and press on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Motivations: Gaining to Lose

motive1Human beings can’t stand to lose. We resist losing anything. We always want to gain, earn, win or feel we deserve something greater. We’re driven to make more of our lives, in every way. We respect profit, prosperity and power as if by second-nature, perhaps more than we’d like to admit. In fact, we’ll sabotage possible gains if we feel there’s an implied risk for losing. Sometimes we want things that aren’t good for us but our hope to gain even harmful things outweighs our awareness of potential loss. People simply want something added to their lives at every turn.

motive2It’s written into our DNA to always want more, never less. Anything subtracted, diminished, removed, negated, missing, minimized or lost is abhorred and we’ll fight against it vehemently. Yet, so often, we focus on our desired health, fitness, wellness, creativity and relationships in a negative way. We say we want to “lose weight” or “stop smoking” or we want to “stop feeling sorry” for ourselves, be “less” anxious, fearful or self-conscious, “get out of” financial debt, “cut off” toxic relationships, “detox” our bodies or “reduce” stress. However, we really just want to grow, learn and develop ourselves and increase, expand and strengthen aspects of our lives. So trying to lose, get rid of or deny ourselves anything we want to change automatically meets with internal conflict and winds up blocking our progress.

be_great_startIf the desire to gain is a chief motivator for most people in most situations, focusing on loss simply cannot help us achieve what we want in optimal, positive ways. The case can also be made that external motivators, which can be powerful prompts for action, are inherently negative. Deadlines, expectations, demands, emptiness, fear, guilt, worry, criticism – they can all be used to make us do things we might otherwise ignore or avoid. But they come from a taking, receiving, lacking energy – a place that makes us feel like we need to fulfill ourselves with something external. Those motivations come from a place of pressure, not pleasure.  Such energy is essentially thrust upon us, absorbed from the outside, and can keep us operating at a lower vibration than positive, internally generated motivators. Ambition, passion, inspiration, pride, joyfulness, opportunity, gratitude and love are all positive motivations that come from within ones self, derived by a personal need to grow and gain, emitted as a generous, giving energy.

motive7When we need to make changes and want to achieve greater goals our motivations should be primarily internal and remain positive and gain-oriented. If “weight loss” is the goal, one should always remain driven instead by “health empowerment,” “fitness gains,” or “energy improvement.” If we want to “stop smoking” it’s better to focus instead on a ”start breathing” or a ”clear the air” regimen. Either way, you’re not really giving something up; you’re gaining a better habit. To “reduce stress,” we ultimately want to concentrate on increasing tranquility. To be “less” anxious or depressed, we need to think of being more trusting and joyful. To “get out of” financial issues, we simply want to gain more financial power and build wealth. It’s all how you look at it. Staying negative, loss-oriented or externally motivated will only bring you down. We are human beings, but we prefer to be “humans having,” so to have what you really want you’ll need to gain the right perspective.  Success is usually a matter of habit, repeated in thought, feeling and action.

To drive home the point about how our needs, desires and motivations direct our habits and actions, let’s look at a few more negative motivators within more positive, gain-oriented frameworks…

motive61) Deadlines or appointments can also be seen as disciplines or opportunities.
2) Requests or meeting the needs of others can be viewed as caring, service and bilateral reciprocation.
3) Suggestions and demands can become greater receptivity, inspiration or self-will.
4) Criticism can be countered with increasing creativity.
5) Fear, doubt and anxiety once understood can generate compassion and faith.
6) Shame and avoidance can be turned into pride and engagement.
7) A need for comfort and ease can motivate an acceptance of tension or pain.
8) Lack or emptiness can become motivations for fulfillment and gratitude.
9) Guilt or worry can spawn serenity, tranquility and understanding.
10) Responsibility or duty, which can feel heavy, is lightened by a desire to help.
11) Expectations can lead to a greater, more honed acceptance of one’s abilities.
12) Selflessness in giving can allow one to experience receiving with appreciation and grace.

motive5These are just a few examples of some opposites that can help you perceive your true motivations in a different light. Once you see that you’ve been looking at how to compensate for losses instead of aggrandizing your gains, it becomes clear that what moves you into action may not always be the energy you want to exude or attract. There is another way of practicing positive motivation I must mention. If your purpose is to gain and grow, that should be the process, too. You’ll want to enjoy the journey of making gains more than what result might come from them. You can control the energy and intention you direct, but you often cannot have any real control over the results, response or outcome of your efforts. You’re better off remaining detached from the destination and savor the path to making more out of your life. Remember that, whatever your goal, you can make it work for you simply because you want to have and become more of yourself, fulfilled by your own willingness to change and grow. The rest is mainly a matter of practice, diligence, discipline and integrity.  Whether you choose to win or lose, what matters most is how you play your inside game.  motive3

Stay motivated and be well!

~Namaste. motive4(Buddha)

 

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