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“How I Became Happy and Healthy”- The 10 Lessons I Learned During My Health Journey

17 Jul
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About The Author: Hi! My name is Hanna and I am a Junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism with a Sustainability Certificate. At the University of Iowa, I am a member of the public relations team of my sorority and starting in the fall, I will hopefully be writing for Iowa’s school newspaper, The Daily Iowan. After graduating from Iowa, I hope to be attending law school to study Environmental Policy and Law. Outside of academics, I enjoy practicing yoga and channeling my creativity through different forms of art. Being a vegan for over a year, I am frequently spending my free time learning more about the vegan lifestyle.

Hi Everyone! Like many others, living a life that promotes both physical and mental health is a top priority, which is why I have spent the past year discovering different strategies that keep me healthy from the inside out. These 10 themes I learned are based off my personal experience, but anyone can apply these topics to their lives regardless of where they are! Each of these tips falls into one of three categories: nutrition, exercise, and mental health. So here are the top 10 lessons I learned while on the path of living a physically and mentally healthy life 🙂

1.    Fuel your body with the proper nutrients!

healhtyeatEating nutrient dense foods is the first step to becoming your healthiest self! A plant-based/vegan diet has all the necessary nutrients your body needs to become strong, toned, and healthy! Consuming our essential macro nutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat) in whole  plant foods will leave you feeling energized and nourished.

Proteins= The building blocks to our bodies! Proteins make up the structure and function of our tissues which is very important when building muscle! It is extremely easy for vegans to not only consume enough protein for their body’s everyday-function, but also to consume enough to build and maintain muscle mass. My go-to protein providers are quinoa, buckwheat, beans, chickpeas, tofu, and Evolve plant protein powder (it’s so good)! Don’t forget that all plants have protein so don’t worry about not getting enough! Here is an awesome piece about plant-based protein!

Carbohydrates= Energy! All fruits and vegetables have carbs in them which our bodies use to create glucose. Glucose is the sugar that gets used for energy immediately or stored for later. Not only do out bodies need glucose, but so do our brains! With the bad rap carbs get, it’s important to understand that in order to be a functioning, healthy human we need to consume carbohydrates. My favorite complex carb-dense foods are bananas, sweet potatoes, lentil pastas, brown rice noodles, and home-made treats!

Fats= Absorption! It is essential to have healthy sources of fat in your meals so your body can absorb and receive the benefits of all the nourishing vitamins from whole foods! Healthy fats also help you feel satisfied, satiated and can curve cravings. I like to get my servings of fat from avocados, coconut oil, nuts, vegan chocolate, and almond butter!

2.    The timing of your food matters!

nourish bodyNot only is it extremely important to eat the right types of food to be healthy, but it is also important to know when to eat specific foods!

If you have a day packed with activity like walking a long distance, a tough workout, or a race to run, you’ll want to prep your body with a carb-dense meal. Leading off your most energy-expending activity of the day with a substantial, carb based meal will guarantee that you will have a steady flow of energy throughout!

One of the most crucial steps to being fit is making sure you are providing your body with enough protein to gain and retain muscle mass. After an activity where you are exerting large amounts of energy from your muscles (lifting weights, HIIT sessions, long cardio sessions, a challenging hike, etc.), consuming 20-40grams of protein will give your body all the necessary amino acids to repair, maintain, and increase the muscle tissue!

3.    Discover the type of training that works the best for your body!

There are endless benefits to exercise that leads to a healthier body and mind; so in order to be your healthiest and fittest self, finding a workout routine that you love, gets you results, and is sustainable, are key pieces! Whether your goal is to gain muscle, lose body fat, gain speed and endurance, or just to be active overall, there is a style of training that will help you get there. Everyone’s body and goals are different, so find a style of training that makes you the happiest and healthiest!

After trial and error periods, I have found that a routine centered around explosive and body weight exercises consistently gets me to my goals! My workouts always involve exercises that require more than one muscle group like jump squats, push-up-burpees (aka death), walking lunges, and commandos. These are just a few exercises that get my heart pumping and leave me dripping in sweat! Despite the fact that I sometimes think I am going to collapse during a difficult workout, this type of training is what I enjoy, what is sustainable for me, what pushes me, and what keeps me fit!

4.    Find your motivation!

We can’t forget that it takes hard work, discipline, and patience to be the healthiest version of yourself! Ask yourself why you want to commit to this journey. Is it because you’ve played sports or been active your whole life and want to continue? Is it to be confident and completely comfortable with how you look? Is it to get stronger? Leaner? Faster? Do you want to feel your best and be energized? Is it all of the above? Whatever your reason is, find what motivates and inspires you to put in the effort even when you don’t want to! My recommendation is to try to find a mentor or role model that reflects your goals in a healthy and safe way (I have listed my personal favorites at the end). There are so many amazing young men and women that share their fitness and health journeys that provide the opportunity for anyone to follow so find someone who you trust and look up to!

5.    Develop a Healthy Mindset

There is an extreme amount of pressure put on both young men and women to look a certain way, for women to be “thin” yet “curvy” and men to have the “triangle” shape with broad shoulders and a six-pack. These difficult expectations are not only promoted through advertising campaigns but also found through different social media platforms. It is challenging for young men and women to avoid comparing themselves to these unrealistic standards. With the constant pressure to look a certain way, it is crucial that you retain a healthy mindset regarding yourself, your food, and your workouts!

body careI have experienced first hand of what an unhealthy mindset looks like; I counted calories, restricted myself, counter-acted any “slip-ups” with 2 hour long workouts, and sometimes I would even go to the gym twice a day. But the unhealthiest part during this time was that I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to be this impossibly “perfect” person. After much needed self reflection, I decided that I was no longer going to sacrifice my health and happiness to meet these expectations. I now look at my health and fitness journey with these 3 attitudes.

View food as your friend, not your enemy! Nutritious, whole foods are the necessary support to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Nutrient dense plant foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and grains will be your allies in being your fittest self! When you do decide to indulge in your choice of “junk food”, try to remember that having a vegan doughnut (my go-to) or a vegan double-cheeseburger is not going to ruin your progress or require you to spend 3 hours at the gym the next day. Don’t be hard on yourself if you “treat yo-self” once in a while!

View your exercise and workouts as a time to make progress toward your fitness goals, not a counter to not-so-healthy choices! Viewing exercise as a time for yourself and a way to increase your strength, speed, endurance, and overall health leads to a healthier mindset. Also, don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day of exercise! Our bodies require time to recover so don’t force yourself through a workout if you’re sore or if you aren’t up for a gym session! Listening to what our bodies are saying will lead to a healthier self inside and out!

If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. We tend to be the biggest and toughest critics of ourselves so it is crucial that we maintain a healthy mindset towards what we see in the mirror. Understanding that people see you differently than you see yourself can switch your self-criticism to self-acceptance. No one is going to notice that pimple on your forehead, that you’re a little bloated today, or whatever insecurity is on your mind. Positive self-talk is so important for your happiness and self esteem, so expressing gratitude and appreciation towards how amazing your body is and everything it does will help you feel confident throughout your journey!

These last few lessons I learned are concepts that I follow in order to be in-tune with myself and my happiness!

6.    Don’t forget about your passions!

Each of us has small passions that provide a way to express our creativity and ideas! When we’re trying to keep up with the pace and demands of our lives, sometimes it can be easy for us to forget about our little hobbies that make us happy. Whether you love to create art, build things, take photos, make fire mix-tapes, write poems, watch old movies, whatever it is, just do it! Carving out the time to do something that you love enhances your individuality and will leave you feeling accomplished, content, and proud of who you are. Your passions are what make you, you!

7.    Put yourself first!

This might sound selfish but hear me out. I believe that taking the time to provide space for yourself to decompress and do what is best for yourself benefits not only you, but others. Putting yourself first dedicates the time and mental room to ground and recharge yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or a little off! If you take the time to support yourself, love yourself, and understand yourself, you then can support others, love others, and understand others!

8.    Learn how to be alone

The wise lyrics of Lil’Boosie and Lil’Phat, “I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, do you know what that mean mayne?”, asks an important question of the meaning of independence. Being independent doesn’t just apply to your ability to support yourself, it also applies to your emotional and mental independence! There will be times in our lives we won’t have our family and friends surrounding us; maybe we are away at school, or we moved to a different city. Whatever the reason, eventually we will need to learn how to be alone. Spending significant time by yourself allows you to really think about who you are and who you want to be. I am not saying spend a month in solitude just to figure out where you want to go to college, but being alone can lead you to your own conclusions and decisions without outside influence! Spending time in your own company will inevitably create a strong support system for yourself and solid coping skills that will be necessary when making big decisions and struggling with conflict.

9.    Allow room for growth

grothEveryday we are presented with both big and small trials and decisions whether they relate to our careers, home life, school work, or health! These areas of our lives offer the opportunity for us to challenge and push ourselves outside our comfort zones. This final push over the threshold of comfort is where we find the most growth! It may be challenging, uncomfortable, nerve-racking, and even a little scary to challenge ourselves to keep growing in different areas of our lives, but the outcome of our progression is completely worth it. We all have dreams and goals we wish to reach and achieve and its our job to push ourselves to be the best we can be!

10.    Take one step at a time

Life is hard. We get dealt hands we don’t want and we get thrown curve balls we don’t expect. Sometimes we have to adjust our lives, plans, and dreams in order to accommodate our new situations. It may seem overwhelming and daunting when trying to become the person you want to be; but I promise if you just take one step at a time, soon you will be able to look back and see how far you have come!  It doesn’t matter what you are facing; it could be the start of your fitness journey, a mental health situation, relationship problems, uncertainty about your future, whatever it is we’ve probably all experienced it. Just keep moving towards your end goal and I promise that you will make it out on the other side stronger and wiser!

I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read this piece; I hope I could provide beneficial advice and a helpful point of view!

Here are links to just a few individuals who inspire me to continue on the path of healthy living!

Tess Begg – Both a fitness and vegan inspiration! Tess has delicious recipes and great workouts!

Sarah’s Day – My go-to girl for great workout routines and exercise plans! **Disclaimer: I do not agree with or promote Sarah’s food choices, I only recommend her workouts!**

Hanna ❤

Connect With Hanna!

 

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A “Night Owl’s” Guide for a Good Night’s Sleep!

10 Jul
Version 4

About The Author: Hi! My name is Hanna and I am a Junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism with a Sustainability Certificate. At the University of Iowa, I am a member of the public relations team of my sorority and starting in the fall, I will hopefully be writing for Iowa’s school newspaper, The Daily Iowan. After graduating from Iowa, I hope to be attending law school to study Environmental Policy and Law. Outside of academics, I enjoy practicing yoga and channeling my creativity through different forms of art. Being a vegan for over a year, I am frequently spending my free time learning more about the vegan lifestyle.

Now that I am in my 20’s, I have noticed that my “peak” and “prime” hours seem to be between 7pm-1am. This is great if I have a massive exam to study for or a 10 page paper to crank out during the school year, but on a regular night? No thank you! I, like many others, take my sleep very seriously. I value those necessary and precious 8 hours, but because of this nocturnal schedule I have fallen victim to the dreaded sleepless-night! Tossing and turning, flipping the pillow to the cool side, and switching positions 50 times, a restless night can be extremely frustrating and detrimental to our health. When it comes to a good night’s sleep, I believe that if we break down our night-time routine into steps that concentrate on decompressing our minds and bodies, even the most stubborn night owls can sleep soundly.

Lets Start With Our Senses!

  1. Sight
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My Himalayan Salt Lamp! I use it every night.

My first tip is probably the most obvious, turn down the amount of light intake an hour before you tuck yourself in! How are we supposed to fall asleep if every source of light (including screens) is on in our house? An hour before bed, start shutting off the big, aggressive lights and turn to lamps or candles to provide light. My favorite light source in my bedroom is the combination of my mineral salt lamp and 2-3 candles. A mineral salt lamp is perfect because of it’s warm glow that is soft on tired eyes while providing enough light for you to finish your final tasks. So light a few candles and create some night time ambiance!

 

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My favorite “positive thoughts” book!

We live in an age that allows us to be connected 24/7. As a result, it is easy to get into the habit of laying in bed, jumping from app to app until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore. I have frequently fallen asleep with my phone in my hand, so I have now traded in my phone screen for a book to break this habit.

Not only is falling asleep with a phone a bad habit, but it can also do some damage. When the wavelength of blue light from the screens of our phones and TVs hits the sensitive cells in our eyes, a signal gets sent to our brains to stop the production of melatonin, the essential hormone for sleep. Without the release of melatonin, we can’t catch those precious “z’s”.

I have found that by shutting down my phone and reading one of my books for at least 20 minutes reduces the strain on my eyes. By the time I am ready to close my eyes, I’m not staring at my ceiling as a result of the blue light, or rolling over onto my phone because I’ve passed out mid-scroll. Free-read novels are great for bed, but I also strongly recommend a book of positive mantras and thoughts before you fall asleep. Your True Home by spiritual teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, is full of wise and thoughtful excerpts that will speak to the heart!

2. Sound

One of my favorite things to do is to play chill easy music while I am getting ready to go to bed. Playing soft music enhances and ties together the easy zen environment. Some of my favorite Spotify playlists consist of “Evening Chill”, “Relax and Unwind”, “Rainy Day”, and my playlists that I have put together on my Spotify. Your music choice really does affect your mood, so choose your playlist with relaxation in mind!

3. Scent

Certain scents have effects on us, and when it comes to relaxation  lavender gets the job done. I use this dreamy scent in so many different ways (honestly, I probably go a little overboard, but sometimes you need to go to great lengths for good sleep). Lavender essential oil is great because it’s uses are extremely versatile! My go to uses are direct application and a diluted spray. To guarantee  that I am receiving the benefits from this essential oil I put a few drops on the inside of wrists and my neck as soon as I crawl into bed. If I don’t want the oil directly on my skin, I take a small spray bottle and fill it with water and about 8 drops of lavender essential oil. I use this spray to mist my pillows and bedding with liquid directly from the sleep gods. By the time you crawl under your covers, you’re tucked away in a lavender cocoon.

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My go-to body lavender body lotion and essential oil!

Some other common ways to use lavender are in candles and body lotions. I mentioned earlier that candles are a great way to reduce harsh light, but the scent of those said candles matters. Lighting a lavender scented candle transforms your entire space into a haven for relaxation. Using a lavender body lotion such as “Dream Cream” by LUSH (my go-to), encapsulates your body with the pleasant scent. The scent of lavender no doubt creates a lovely environment for you to decompress and relax in!

4. Taste

My newest habit that promotes a good night’s rest is a cup of hot tea. Search no more I have found the holy grail sleep tea, tulsi tea. Tulsi is the Eastern Indian herb, Holy Basil. Holy Basil is a natural hormone balancer which means that if you have high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), consuming holy basil will help your hormones balance back into equilibrium which leads to relaxation. This tea is not only great for people who have a hard time falling asleep but also for people who have trouble staying asleep.

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My favorite tulsi tea right now!

Bold statement, but I truly believe that this herb has changed my life. A few weeks ago, I was waking up at 2:30am every night, unable to fall asleep until 4:30am (I cannot even describe how frustrating this was). After some research, my theory was that between the hours of 1am and 4am, my blood sugar levels were dropping leading to the spike of cortisol resulting in me waking up wide eyed and bushy tailed at 2am. So I decided to make some changes in the timing of certain foods to see if my blood sugar levels would be altered. I found that my perfect formula is as follows: large amounts of fruit consumed only before noon, a handful of pumpkin seeds or spoonful of almond butter after dinner, and a cup of tusli tea before bed. Night one of this formula resulted in immediate positive change of sleeping soundly through the night! By tweaking just a few things in my diet and adding tulsi tea, my body has found the perfect balance for a good night’s sleep. I highly encourage you look at your diet before turning to medication/supplements for restless nights!

5. Touch

This one is easy! Put on your softest pajamas and crawl into your softest bedding to create a “fluffy cloud” experience.

Now that we have covered all the senses, here are some other tips!

Focusing on the Body and the Breath

Stretch It Out!

If you have had a particular stressful day, I suggest setting some time aside to focus on releasing tension in your body through some light stretching or a gentle yoga sequence. Our bodies hold our emotions and stresses mostly in our shoulders, neck, and back so taking 20 minutes to gently stretch out these tight muscles can greatly increase your body’s ability to surrender into sleep! Gentle stretching and calming yoga sequences allow you to tune into your body and let go of the day’s troubles. My go-to sequence is the basic sun salutation because it is easy to follow and allows different opportunities for all the major muscle groups to be addressed!

sun sal

Just Breathe

breathIf anything from this piece sticks with you, please let it be this last point: the greatest sleep tool at your disposal is your breath. We all have the ability to slow down and switch our focus just by tapping into our breath. Breathing deep has endless benefits including the increase of oxygen levels in both the brain and muscles, the decrease in the production of stress hormones, the release of tension, the lowering of blood pressure, and a focal point for your mind. These are just a few impacts of deep breathing that can affect your precious sleep! With your mind focused on your inhales and exhales, you transfer your concentration from your thoughts to your breathing pattern. I cannot even tell you how many times I have been laying in bed unable to fall asleep when suddenly I remember to breathe deeply and before I knew it I was drifting asleep (pro tip: to keep your attention on your breath, count your inhales and exhales). Our breath is extremely powerful so use it to your advantage!

I hope this post has helped in anyway! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read this. Sweet Dreams!

Connect With Hanna’s Instagram

Hanna ❤

The “Fuck Yes” Diet

24 May

fuckyesornoHave you heard of the Law of “Fuck Yes or No?” This law applies to relationships stating that:

  1. When you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.
  2. When you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

Basically both you and the other person need to be Fuck Yes about something, otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Check out Mark Mason’s website if you are interested in learning more on this law with relationships.

How can this apply to ours diets? Consider this quote:

“Perhaps the most intimate relationship each of us will ever have is not with any fellow member of our own human species. Instead it is between our bodies and our food.” –Scientific America, 2013

You will never have a more intimate relationship, not with your partner nor your child in this lifetime then you will with food. Food can be enveloped into our emotions and feelings. Food is makes up our culture. Food is a huge part of our social lives. Food breaks down into tiny chemicals and becomes you. Food affects every aspect of our wellbeing, from our mood, energy levels, thinking capacity, brain power, sports performance, sex drive, and longevity. We have over 100 trillion cells in our bodies and these cells need nutrients to thrive. If we fail to provide them with the essential nutrients we are harming ourselves rather than healing ourselves. Let’s work on creating a more positive relationship with our food.

Just as we can provide self-respect with applying the Law of “Fuck yes or No” to relationships with people, we can do the same with food. Why? Because non-needy, high self-worth people don’t have time for food they are not excited to eat. Don’t have time for food that doesn’t nourish the body, mind and soul. And certainly don’t have time for complicated food relationships.

Simply ask yourself this:

  1. When deciding to eat a certain food, THAT FOOD and FOOD RELATIONSHIP must inspire YOU to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed to eat it.
  2. When deciding to eat a certain food, THAT FOOD RELATIONSHIP must in turn respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with it.

OK, now you are probably thinking, how can a food say “Fuck yes or no” to me as a human would?

Let me translate specific human relationships you might have had to food relationships:

The Stage 5 Clinger:

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Human: You are the clinger, super needy, not able to let go. You are a total “Fuck Yes” to committing to the other person. Them, a “Fuck No”. You are ready to give the relationship 100%, you are devoting your time and attention to this person, texting, calling, analyzing every move. Giving up this person feels impossible. This person is like a drug to you. Your love drug. You are high every time you are with this person. You have lost all self-control with this person. Unfortunately, the person you are clinging to is not that into you. In fact, they are keeping you strung along. Keeping you wishing, hoping. Keeping you on edge for that next love drug high.

Food: You are addicted to a certain type of food, fast food, sugar laden foods, processed foods. The food is a drug for you. You feel cravings for it. You cannot see yourself living without these types of foods. You have been devoting your time, by investing your money and eating these types of foods daily. You have lost all self-control with these foods.

Solution: It is time to practice some self-respect, and be the rejecter! By detaching yourself from the foods you crave, you will soon say “Fuck No,” too. You will then find yourself choosing much healthier foods when you let this unhealthy relationship go.

The Mindless:

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Human: You go with the flow with relationships. The other person is into you, a “Fuck Yes.” This doesn’t bother you one way or another. For some reason, whatever comes along you take it. You can feel so-so about someone, and go with it because no one better is coming along. You are mindless, uninterested in how the relationship will proceed, but continue moving forward with it because it is available to you.

Food: You go with the flow about what food goes into your mouth. For example, the staff break room has donuts and you already full, but you still eat it anyway, because it is there. You mindlessly choose certain foods, because it is easy and convienent to you. You eat in front of the TV, computer and/or with devices in front of you. You have no concern about how the food is affecting your body. You are a complacent and basically a “Fuck No” in this food relationship. The food relationship is responding back to you, “Fuck Yes.” You two are not on the same page.

Solution: Stop being so complacent with your food choices, and get excited about what you are eating. Choose foods that are nourishing to you. Be more mindful when you eat, by really tasting, and connecting to the food. Maybe you need to try a cooking class, or go to a gardening class for some inspiration. Connect with your food in a way you would want to connect with another human being.

The Booty Call:

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Human: You are the booty call. You are called at late hours of the night for a fun time. You enjoy the time between the sheets, but long for something more. You two are not, “Fuck Yes” about the same relationship goal.

Food: Is your food Booty Calling you? Do you find yourself with late night binges? Do you have fun eating these foods in the moment, but are then left with feelings of longing, guilt or regret? Do you feel something is missing in this relationship? Do you long for something more? You and your food relationship are not on the same page. It seems that you are not a “Fuck Yes” in this relationship.

Solution: Give yourself stronger boundaries to follow as you would with a human relationship. You deserve better. Find out what is causing these binges. Is it a void you are trying to fill? Sit with your emotions instead of reaching for food.

The Asshole:

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Human: The person you are seeing is a complete fucking asshole, and you know it. They make you feel inferior. They undermine you. They disrespect you. They can be liars, cheaters, manipulaters, and can sometimes be abusive. You cry out, only wanting to be heard. You want from the deepest part of yourself for your partner to embrace you, connect with you, not abuse you. You want a deeper understanding and respect. This person is “Fuck No,” you are a “Fuck yes.”

Food: The food you are in a relationship does not love you back, because you do not first love yourself. You deprive yourself of food, or restrict your food, because you long from the deepest part of your soul to just be heard. You want control. Your relationship with food hurts you. It disrespects you, it lies to you, it cheats you. You don’t feel like you are enough. You cry, because you want it to embrace your whole self.  What you really want is to deepin the understanding of who you really are. This food relationship a complete asshole, and it is responding as a “Fuck No.” It is time you do as well.

Solution: Stand your ground. It is time to fight for yourself. Trying to control only leads to more suffering. Discover yourself by working with a counselor on why you feel incomplete and the need for control.

 

“If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it.” Evelyn Tribole

❤ Colleen Poling, RD

The Secret to Happiness

21 Mar

 

Most of us go throughout our days living in monotony. Day in and day out we follow daily routines. We don’t give much awareness to our surroundings, and blindly move from task to task. We end up feeling empty with this sameness and cannot pinpoint where our unhappiness is coming from. If you are feeling lost, it is because there is no intention in your life. Having no intention in 5 key areas of your life causes feelings of discontent. These include diet, exercise, relationships, career, and adventure. Intentionality means paying attention. It means doing things on purpose—not passively, not reflexively. Learning  how to embrace the power of intent can bring you back to life again.

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1. Diet: The way most of us eat food in America is centered around our egos, and with zero intention. We are not connected with our food, and that is why we are getting so sick. We crave food certain foods. These foods make us powerless when we get sight of them, a whiff of them, or even think of them. We ache at the thought of an oozy gooey slice of pizza with salty ham, succulent pineapple, and a garlicky crust. We are already thinking about the next heap of mac and cheese when we haven’t even started our first bite. We stop at the drive-through window after a long day at work craving a bacon hamburger and crispy fries, because it is fast and fills our bellies. We have come to a place where we are now eating what is fast, convenient and disconnected. We are so far from the original source of the food we eat that it seems to not matter where it comes from anymore. Food has the power to affect how we feel: energetic, lethargic, positive, negative, healthy or sick. Food is not just about filling our bellies. We need to nourish not only the physical body, but also the mind and soul. We need to eat to live, not live to eat. Don’t get me wrong though, enjoying our food is a part of this process. We need to learn how to be intentional with how we eat food, and how we prepare our food, with positive, loving energy for example. If we don’t do this then we will continue to have trouble to tap into a higher awareness.

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  • Diet Challenge: For one week avoid going out to eat for your meals. Grocery shop, and meal plan. Choose mostly organic, plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, beans, and legumes. Avoid boxed foods, breads, cookies, bottled sauces, processed foods with added white sugar, and frozen foods. Cook your meals with positive energy and a smile on your face. Eat your meals by sitting down at a table with friends and family. Turn off your TV, smartphone or computer when eating your meals.

2. Physical Activity: Just like with food, most of us are very unintentional with our physical activity. Our bodies are designed to move, not to sit at a desk all day long, then come home sit on the couch and then go to bed. We all know the benefits of exercise, but have still become detached from our natural state of being because of modern conveniences. It is easy to get in a rut and stop moving our bodies for weeks at a time. It is no wonder we are feeling depressed. Exercise has been shown to decrease depression, create new brain cells, and create stronger connections within our brains. Our bad exercise habits have rubbed off on our children, and now we are seeing childhood obesity on the rise. We are teaching our children that it is more fun to play video games then to play outside. Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly, your mother announced dinner was ready, but your didn’t want to go in. The passion of play took all of your attention. It is time we give some intention to this area of our lives again. Let’s learn to play outside like kids again. Athletes of sports like crossfit, and triathlons need to be intentional as well. Each movement must have intention and skill behind it, our else you risk the chance of getting hurt. Athletes must give intention to how they are feeling and push forward when it is time to push, and to back off when time to slow down to avoid injury.

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  • Physical Activity Challenge: At the beginning of each day or each week intentionally set a goal for physical activity. It doesn’t have to be a set time of day. It can be 10-minute bouts at a time. Get up every hour and do 10 squats. Get in 6,000 steps a day. Make it fun. Go on a beautiful hike. Try a zumba or spin class. Sign up for a local mud run and work toward that as a goal. Plan ahead and make your movements intentional. Stop making excuses!

3. Relationships: Are your relationships intentional or just convenient? The act of intentionally choosing someone to enter your life generates a huge amount of energy, hope, and joy. It’s a catalyst that has the potential to ignite a lifelong, soul-deep relationship. When we go to someone and say, “Dance with me,” and they take our hand, it creates great possibilities. It doesn’t mean we’re already skilled on the dance floor, but it does mean the two of us have chosen each other as partners to learn and grow with. The connections you make with the people in your life may be intentional or convenient, but they’re rarely both. Culture tells us that relationships need to be efficient, and if they’re not, it’s time to move on. This kind of upside-down thinking says that relationships just randomly come our way like traffic on a freeway, and we have no choice but to go with the flow. Great relationships are based on active choices. The very best relationships are highly intentional, built on the solid rock of shared vision and goals. This art of relationships is beautifully simple but often forgotten in the rat race of our lives. You have to have a direction, a purpose, and sometimes even a plan for your key relationships. You must act with purpose, not just react to what happens. It is also important to have an intentional relationship with ourselves for us to connect with others on a deeper level.

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  • Relationship Challenge: At any given moment you have several relationships going on in your life, such as family, friends, and romantic. If any of these relationships are giving you stress or anguish, sit down and write your vision for this relationship. Where do you see it going? What do you want out of it? Then share these visions with the person in the relationship with you. If they do not agree, or do not try to compromise with you, then maybe it is time to move on. For a more intentional relationship with yourself, try a guided journal or guided online meditations to dig deep and connect better with YOU!

4. Career: We hunger for leadership, success, and fulfillment in our chosen careers. We spend 40+ hours a week working, so it is vital that we feel satisfied in it. Life is too short to spend wasted hours on a job that causes boredom or stress. If it is impossible to change your day job at this time, then try engaging in a new project at work, ask for ways you can lead, or spend 10-15 minutes a day working on an outside project that could lead to something down the road. Stop being miserable at work, and start being intentional with what your want in a career.

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  • Career Challenge: Write down 5 things you are passionate about. Writing? Cooking? Photography? Teaching? Incorporate these passions into your current job, or start something during off hours in which you can include these passions. It is possible that your enthusiasms could lead to a future job opportunity.

5. Adventure: Just like we hunger for love, romance, relationships, a passionate career, leadership, success, self-expression, we hunger for excitement and adventure. The extent to which we are able to incorporate adventure determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel. Everyone is called to adventure. Yes, adventure may hurt us, but monotony will certainly kill us. We need to start planning extraordinary adventures in our lives for newness and fun. Stop the madness of repetitiveness and explore something new. Plan more short vacations. Try a new class. Learn. Whatever you do, don’t be boring!

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  • Adventure Challenge: Every month plan a new adventure. Go skydiving. Travel to a National Park. Try backpacking. Try a new painting class. Read a new book. Try a yoga class or crossfit class. Sign up for a race. Join a meet up group. Learn a new skill.

❤ Colleen Poling, RD

6 Secrets Every Person Who Always Wants More Should Know

22 Sep

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Chances are you have asked yourself at one point or another, “Why am I unhappy?” Then you probably go on to think about why this could be. These might be some reasons that might have crossed your mind.

  • I need to live in a bigger, nicer house to be happier
  • I need to have a new car to be happier
  • I need a new phone or gadget to be happier
  • I need to live the right location to be happier
  • I need to have nicer clothes to be happier
  • I need to have more money to be happier
  • I need to be a certain weight to be happier
  • I need to achieve a certain accomplishment to be happier
  • I need to look a certain way to be happier
  • I need to be with a certain person to be happier
  • I need a certain job to be happier
  • I want more than what I already have and then I will be happier

The list goes on and on and on…

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Secret 1: Craving more is the reason why you are unhappy.

The truth is that if you don’t have enough right now to be happy, chances are nothing you will gain will make you happier. You will always want more. The real question you should be asking yourself is, “Why do I feel I need more?” This is because the only reason we want more is to achieve a certain emotional state that we are not in at this very moment. What is really missing? What void is not being filled? Find out how to fill this void in a more healthy way. Maybe that means talking with a friend or counselor.

Secret 2: Realize that what you have now is enough.

You probably don’t need more. Think about what you really need to live and stop buying non-essentials. Do you really need the latest technology, name brand clothing, a fancy car or big house? Living green and sustainably, creating, singing, walking, doing, running, moving, or talking with a friend will make us much more happier than material items. Less is more. Living minimally will give you more time, less stress, less worry, give you room for what’s important, and ultimately help you become healthier. “The secret to happiness, you see, is not seeking more, but developing the capacity to enjoy less.” -Socrates

Secret 3: Make the every moment count.

Every interaction you have throughout the day means something. Even the smallest, or most routine moments in life are worth cherishing. Moments you share with others are what you will remember on your deathbed, and how people will remember you. You will not be defined by how you looked, what you owned, where you lived, but how you lived your life and how you treated people. Knowing this will help you realize that by giving to others, you are actually giving to yourself.

Secret 4: Meditate.

This does not mean sitting down and thinking about nothing. It really is the opposite of this. Meditation is bringing your awareness back to you, and away from the world. Taking only 5 minutes each morning, midday or evening will lower stress levels, help you focus on what is really important, and help you enjoy life in the current moment. Check out apps like headspace or YouTube videos for guided meditations that will bring you clarity and calmness.

Secret 5: Detach Yourself.

Stop attaching yourself to wanting a person, place, thing or idea. Gripping on to what you do not have only creates more stress and emotional turmoil. Stop trying to grasp on. Stop trying to control things. Letting go means letting happiness in. “You only lose what you cling to” Buddha

Secret 6: To understand what will be enough for you, you need to define your dreams and get VERY specific about what you want.

Start out by writing down what it is you want. Next write down why you think you want this person, place, thing, idea or accomplishment. Write down exactly how you will obtain it. How much money will it take, how much time will it take, what will it take out of you to get it. What will you lose? What will you gain? Is it truly worth your time to obtain? Weigh the pros and cons. Getting specific, and detailed about obtaining what you want might help you realize that you didn’t really want it after all.

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Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more and all good things will be yours. –Swedish proverb

❤ Colleen Poling, RD