7 Stealthy Ways to Add Exercise into Your Day

  1. Don’t waste time brushing your teeth – by this I mean do brush your teeth, but don’t just stand there! Drop into a squat and hold it. You can raise up to a 45 degree squat down to a deep squat and hold it at each level. If you have enough wall space, do a wall sit instead. Your thighs will be burning and all without spending an extra minute.

  2. Engage your abs. This is how my boyfriend swears he got his 6 pack. Whenever you are sitting at a desk, waiting in line, or otherwise sedentary, turn that time into a tummy tucking ritual. Engage your rectus abdominis- the sheet of muscle all the way down your abdomen. Pull it tight as if trying to touch it to your spine. But don’t forget to breathe.

  3. Curl the jugs – if you have a big family who drinks a lot of milk, juice, water, or whatever, those jugs and containers weigh enough to get a good bicep workout. When you unload your groceries, go ahead and fire off a few reps before you put them away. Do the same when you get them out of the fridge. If bicep curls are too easy, switch to more challenging lateral raises, forming a T shape with your arms.

  4. Make a morning ritual – every A.M. I start by sitting on my bed, reading, praying, and setting my intentions. Then I drop to the floor and pound out a few pushups, crunches, and by the time I’m done with lunges, my heart rate is up and I feel pretty good. I do this on mornings that I am not going directly to the gym or for a run. It has become effortless and takes less than 5 minutes. The key is to not be late waking up so you are not in a rush to leave the house.

  5. Take the path least followed – use the stairs, not the elevator or escalator in the mall. Park farther away in the parking lot, or a few blocks down the street from your destination. Especially when the weather is nice, a few minutes of extra walking will improve your mood. If you are in a hurry, you had better speed walk!

  6. Commercial workout - For those of you who watch TV, make it productive. Family and friends can join in for a few laughs and high fives. If you are with someone you want to impress, I guarantee that male or female, if you drop to the floor and do 20 pushups, hold a minute plank, or strike a yoga pose, you will get mad respect. You will come across as motivated and fitness minded, which of course, you are.

  7. Get those glutes – this may be the most awkward one, which is why I saved it for last. As you walk, lengthen your stride and squeeze your gluteal muscles back each time you take a step. Each pulse will make you feel extra sassy and after a few minutes your glutes will feel fatigued- good job! It will appear to others that you are taking a long stride; I promise they will not know what you are doing. They will, however, notice when you look better in your jeans.

Why You May Need a Celebration Box

 My celebration box, right next to the inspirational "work it" print

My celebration box, right next to the inspirational "work it" print

How many great things have you done this week?

How many times did you give yourself a pat on the back? 

Did you answer, “I did Nothing! I didn’t finish my big project, I didn’t exercise, and I hardly had time to even rest and spend time with my loved ones! I didn’t DO anything but work, sleep, and eat!” 

And maybe that’s true- maybe you did get behind on your project, and you absolutely failed to get any physical activity. Maybe it’s not because you were doing more important things, just urgent things. As a coach, I help clients strategize their actions and outlook so they quit having “did nothing” weeks. But what I’m going to focus on today is the idea that even in a week like this, you DID some really fantastic things, and they deserve to be recognized.

Too often we focus on what we failed to do and gloss over all the little victories of the week. On a second pass, you may realize that you cooked 3 new healthy meals, caught up with an old friend, and had a great conversation with a new connection who you’re really happy you met. 

Let me tell you a personal story that you may relate to. Six months into my new business, I was packing my days full of activity. I have always been a hard worker, but since becoming an entrepreneur, I’ve been hustling. I don’t even know how many hours a week I devote to work related activity, and I’m not sure I want to know. I LOVE what I do, but it does take a lot of time and focus. Within a short time span, I listened to a podcast about burnout, I read a blog about work-life balance, and I heard a sermon on rest. Because I enjoy my career, and barely feel that it is “work”, I did not feel like burnout was approaching, but I knew that it was something I need to protect myself against. I realized that I had nearly become a hamster running on her wheel- keep going, keep doing, and keep looking ahead. 

If you have my book, “The Secret to Your Best Life in 10 Minutes a Day”, then you know that before bed, there is a prompt that asks for 3 great thing you are thankful for today. In that space, I often wrote small things I had accomplished, good meetings I had, or a particularly great audiobook I had listened to. This started getting my mind focused on all the good things that happened that day, even if they were seemingly insignificant. I started congratulating myself for doing the things I wanted to do and being the person I wanted to be. This felt surprisingly good! I realized that I had been withholding celebration from myself. I am quick to make a big deal out of the success of others, so why am I not showing the same kindness to myself? 

You may have heard me say that your thinking creates your feeling. We can feel the way we want to feel by thinking certain thoughts. I want to feel proud of myself for my hard work! I want to smile as I celebrate the good things in my life, even if I don’t tell another soul about them. I realized that I could do this easily by creating an opportunity for self-love and keep myself emotionally strong long-term. 

This is where the celebration box came in. During the time I began to write little successes in my daily journal, I finished up a box of Yogi brand tea. As I was collapsing the box to recycle it, I noticed that the inside of the box had an ornate, luxurious, Indian pattern on it! I bent all the edges in the opposite direction and with two pieces of invisible tape, I made an inside-out tea box into a paper cube that was beautiful to look at. Now, every time I do something worthy of celebration, I write it on a small piece of paper and slide it into the box like a piggy bank of valuable memories. 

Now, just in case you are thinking about pride and how unvirtuous this seems, let me explain. I am not a person who struggles with pride in the way that I gloat over my accomplishments. I was ignoring all the positive actions, blessings, and serendipitous occasions in my life, which is just plain sad. I am a very positive person, and this is how I can keep that up. I don’t write my celebrations thinking, “I am the greatest!” I write them with a posture in my heart of gratitude to God that I am able to co-create these good things, maybe help others in the process, and remind myself of the value of all the action I have been taking. 

So, have you been celebrating your actions, big or small? Let me tell you, self-congratulation feels pretty great. Here are a few examples of things I have written, maybe these are things you have done and have never acknowledged yourself for doing them:

Finished “The Power of Now” (a book I had been meaning to read)
Worked out 5x this week (and now it’s become a habit, but would it have if I never celebrated how hard it was in the beginning?)
Cleaned out my whole closet
Led a workshop with some great people
Sorted my big desk pile
First session with the coolest new client! 
Cooked for myself every meal and snack this week (and saved $$)
Studied for 8 hours this weekend! 

See, both the big things and the little things are worth acknowledging, because life and growth are made up of them. Maybe it’s time to start your own celebration box. Make it work for you. Maybe a celebration word document or even a note on your phone will be better for you. There is a lot you can do with this. Every month, I dump all the pieces of paper out and read them. What a mood booster! I even have made a commitment to myself that when I reach a certain number of slips of paper, I am going to reward myself with this particularly fabulous leather tote that I have been eyeing for over a year. It’s not that I feel like I have to “earn it”, but I want to link my positive actions to my new bag. Every time I look at it, I will remember that I’m pretty awesome at turning dreams into reality.  I’m not waiting to hear it from someone else, I’m taking charge of my own feelings and I’m creating the thoughts, and in turn, the life I want. 

Are you going to start a celebration box? Let me know what you think!

To the New Year's Resolution Haters (and Lovers)

    We are in the third week of 2015; the week that motivation wanes and resolutions begin to fall by the wayside. Even if you were feeling exceptionally driven on January 1, those feelings tend to fade as we near February. I’ve seen several anti-resolution posts on social media. Around the New Year, Facebook was filled with two camps: the resolution setters and the annoyed anti-resolution crowd.  There was even a meme saying, “Brace yourself, here come the resolutions”. I sensed a smug tone in a joke that the gym was starting to thin out again, back to the committed regulars. As an author of a book largely devoted to goal-setting, of course I think that January is the most wonderful time of the year. I applaud those who set resolutions, but I also know that a small percentage will actually follow through. I suppose that is the objection of the anti-resolution crowd. They are not inspired to set goals in line with the calendar, and are introspective enough to know not to set a goal if they will not indeed work towards it. They know that it feels bad to fall off the New Year’s bandwagon, and avoid putting themselves through an unnecessary struggle.

    No matter which side you identify with, I think we can all agree with the necessity of strategy in the life of a successful person. I want to have a chat about plans, even with the anti-resolution people. Maybe you don’t even like the word “goal” and can’t remember the last time you wrote one down. Let’s not get caught up in semantics. Are you still excited about the last aim you set your mind to? Even if you are not one to set goals based on the New Year, gauge your commitment level to the last goal you set. See, I refuse to let anyone out of goal-setting just because they have a negative association to the word. Goals and resolutions are important markers in our lives to push us towards our best selves.

    Bill Copeland wisely said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your whole life running up and down the field and never score.” Sports fans will realize the wisdom in this analogy: if there were no goal lines, no baskets or posts, there would be no win for either side! The problem with having no clear way to win is that there is also no way to lose. Could the avoidance of goal-setting and resolution-making really be a form of self-protection from the feeling of failure?

    No one likes to lose. Losing in basketball is bad enough; losing in our income objective or weight goal is flat out discouraging. I could never count the number of times I have settled for less, not taken a risk, and played it safe to avoid the feeling of failure. It does take courage to set goals. It takes introspection to set a resolution. If you have avoided goal-setting because you knew you would simply not put in the work needed, then I applaud you for knowing yourself. It’s important to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound), not unrealistic ones. This is how we set ourselves up to win!

Take a moment and ask yourself, “In what ways am I not setting a clear goal so that I will not expose the fact that I have failed to achieve it?”

Did you already set a goal but now you’re struggling? Here’s the good news: it is natural to feel stuck when you don’t have a plan. See #2 below.

So, dear anti-resolution friend, Do you want to give goal-setting a chance? I’ll give you a prompt that meets you where you are.

1.      Maybe you don’t know what goal to set because you’re feeling uninspired. You may need to get in touch with yourself! Block out some time to first think about who you are and what makes you unique. Celebrate what you are good at and what interests you. Dream a bit, and see a vision of what you want your future self to be like. Once you have done this, determine a point in your life where you would like to grow and develop into your vision. See if there is a goal you can set that will get you closer to this picture of your future. What would be a really great “win” in your life?

2.     Maybe there is a goal that comes to mind that is too big to even know where to start. High five for knowing what you want and having big dreams for yourself! Check in to make sure that this goal fits into SMART goal format. Write the goal at the bottom of a page and start filling in any steps you know you will need to take. Think about the process in reverse if you get stuck. Once you have an outline, you can fill it in with more and more detail. Write out the steps you will need to take this month, this week, and even today. Big goals are accomplished the same a little goals- one step at a time!

3.      Maybe goal setting is a struggle just because you have not done it before. Here’s my general formula: dream, set a good goal, write out a plan, fill in the details, and then take action consistently. If you need more help, check out my book (read the first chapter here) I take the reader through a detailed goal setting process to set you on the right path. If you do not learn well from books and need a more personal approach, I offer one-on-one coaching programs to help you achieve your goals and become your best self. The “New Year/New Goal Kickstart Coaching Program” gives your four sessions to set an awesome goal and make a do-able plan. We can course-correct at the beginning to make sure you are on track to success. The “Resolution to Reality Coaching Program” includes 13 sessions: either one per month or two per month for six months. This ensures that you have support long term though ups and downs until your resolution is a reality!

    I would love to hear what goal you have set! I’ll share a fun one that I just started this year: drink hot lemon water each morning and eat alkaline foods to lower my PH. 

How to Steal Back Your Focus

    We live in wonderful but dark times: distractions abound in the form of texts, vibrating iPhones alerting us to Facebook messages, @mentions on twitter, overflowing email inboxes, advertisements, captivating TV shows, and addicting games galore. It’s a love/hate relationship that is difficult to escape. We are quite entertained, but if we are honest, our focus and productivity have taken a hit. I am not going to tell you to fast from media. That would be like telling you to don monastic robes and head for the Himalayas. What I am going to suggest is that you are intentional in your media consumption. When you want it, really want it. When you need to focus elsewhere, step away. Here are a few tips to become the master of your media.

    Allow yourself to engage. I truly enjoy Pinterest. There are millions of beautiful pictures and interesting things to learn. Instead of feeling guilty or thinking in the back of my mind that I am wasting time, I allow myself a set amount of time to spend there. For 15 minutes in the evening, when my brain is past the point of productivity anyway, I let myself relax with my favorite media. This is “me time” and I fully engage in it. 
    As with other habits that you want to reign in, deprivation can backfire. If you don’t allow yourself the necessary luxury of pleasure in your life, it will be difficult for you to be productive all the time. So go ahead, enjoy your favorite show or Facebook stalking, but do it on purpose, without beating yourself up. Own your choice to enjoy media, and make that choice on purpose. 
    Easier said than done. If your web browsing feels more like a compulsion then a controlled choice, you are in good company. Addictions are hard to break because of the reward hormone called dopamine that your brain produces every time you get a notification or interesting Instagram image. It’s like candy and we seek it out even when we “should” be doing other things. 

    Now that you have a specific time and place that you enjoy your favorite media, you also know when you don’t. You may need help at first, and that is ok. There is no need to struggle your way through in anguish- here are my 3 favorite tips: 

-Tell your significant chatters: if you have a friend who always Facebook messages you at work, and your mother often texts you during dinner, let them know what times you are unable to talk to them and give a better time. It’s great practice in setting boundaries. 
-Hire a nanny. I do not get on Pinterest during the day, unless it is work related, but I was in the habit of opening the site before I even realized what I was doing. There are many different programs to help you monitor and control your web use. Nanny for Google Chrome is a good tool as a last resort if you have problems with unconscious typing. 
-Get some grit. If you think you will have a hard time building barriers around your media use, you may need to upgrade some inner skills. It is not easy, don’t expect it to be. I picture an angel and a devil on my shoulder, and the devil is wearing a Facebook logo t-shirt.  Controlling your thoughts is a learned skill, and one of the most worthwhile ones at that. Just do it and it will eventually be easier. Let yourself feel the negative emotions associated with the struggle and move on. 
-Take a break. I had to delete the Facebook App from my phone for a month before I broke my habit. I would scroll down my timeline on my phone automatically when I had an extra minute. After deleting the App, I began to just look at my surroundings or take a moment to think. It was quite an upgrade to my inner peace and eventually I did not miss it. 

    How nice will it feel to give your full attention with ease? Now that you are a focused, productive beast, what are you going to accomplish? You can give it some thought once you shut down the device you’re reading this on. ;) 

How to Love Your Life, No Matter the Circimstance

 This photo is a visual representation of how I want to feel- light, bright, & happy. Guess what? That IS how I feel!

This photo is a visual representation of how I want to feel- light, bright, & happy. Guess what? That IS how I feel!

I’m going to share a secret with you that revolutionized my thinking. Ready to have your mind blown?

YOU get to CHOOSE how you feel.

Your car just got wrecked, you came down with the flu, or someone wrote you nasty hate mail? In difficult situations, it may seem like you HAVE to be sad, angry, or stressed because that is the natural conditioned response.

Imagine with me for a moment that you have just experienced a crisis of your choice. See yourself breathing deeply, smiling, and thinking to yourself how fortunate you truly are. Notice that there are positive elements in your situation. You express gratitude for your favorite blessings and even for this current opportunity to grow. You reframe your perspective and navigate the situation easily. Your mind tells you that you are okay and your inner alarms are silenced. Your blood pressure does not rise and you address the situation step by step. You work through it with a positive attitude; this is just another situation to go through on your life journey. You realize that “things happen” and can even expect future problems to be overcome easily.

Now, how does that feel when you imagine it? Pretty good, right?

The formula I follow for both personal issues and in my coaching is as follows:

Thoughts -> Feelings -> Actions -> Situation

Your thoughts create your feelings which create your actions which creates the situation you find yourself in. Thought patterns become ingrained and the real work is to unstick those thought patterns.

I wish I could take credit for this, but I learned about this concept while studying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  For further learning, research CBT and start noticing this concept in your life. If you need a more personal experience to begin to implement this way of thinking in your life, I would love to coach you through it. Thought patterns are my specialty.  

Note: you do risk having others think you are too relaxed or that you don’t care. If your family tends to be excitable, this could cause tension. Simply explain that you will take steps to remedy the issue, but would rather do so with ease. I don’t know about you, but ease is one of my new favorite words.