Want to know how to make 2018 great?

Happy New Year! No doubt your inbox is already overflowing with advice on how to make 2018 great. Full disclosure: this is NOT one of those emails.

I learned years ago that any resolution made through the effervescent lens of a bottle of bubbly is fairly unlikely to come to fruition

Plus, when you consider that 92% of resolution-makers quit long before they reach their goals, it begs the question — should we make them at all?

In my opinion, we should not.

Rather than planning out the next 12 months, what if we just focused on the next 12 hours instead? After all, 365 pretty good days will turn into a damn good year before you know it.

That’s my plan for this year. Instead of spending time thinking about how I can improve myself and my life, I’m choosing to take it day-by-day and week-by-week, with the intention of being rather than becoming.

I have to admit, the idea of taking each day as it comes makes me feel a little untethered. The little Negative Nellie voice inside my head is already berating me for not doing more and being more. But I’m going to practice what I preach…and tell her to zip it!

Being rather becoming doesn’t mean you won’t make progress. In fact, I have a hunch that in doing rather than deliberating you will move ahead in leaps and bounds.

When we take life one day at a time we will quickly realize that we’re actually good at it.

It’s easy to forget how simple it is to be healthy, how easy it is to “choose happy”, and how valuable we already are, sans resolutions to lose weight, be better people, make more money or improve our relationships.

Instead of worrying about the rest of the year, start living for today. Today you can make a change for better health. Today you can choose to laugh instead of cry. Today you can be great!

In the words of our old mate, Albert Einstein:

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

 

 

Until next week,

Why it’s essential to make your own decisions (or how not to be a fickle wife)

Remember a while back that I told you that I struggled with healthy decision making? Well, I’ve been working on it and wanted to report back.

To quickly recap, I used to outsource certain lifestyle decisions (usually those that may be seen as “less healthy”), so that I could have the experience without being responsible for the outcome.

Whether the question was to get takeout for dinner, skip a workout, watch a movie instead of doing housework, or have a glass of wine on Tuesday night, while I may have wanted to do the activity, I didn’t want to be the one who suggested it.

So instead of using my voice, as an independent thinker and 21st century woman, I relied on my sneaky wifely ways to make my husband choose — this was basically an insurance policy that said it was his fault if I felt crappy later on.

I mean, how crummy is that? I shouldn’t even be admitting it publicly, but I decided to fess up incase you’re doing it too.

Every week I speak with women who blame their situation on circumstances outside their control:

  • “My co-worker brought donuts to the office…”
  • “My husband wanted to get popcorn at the movies…”
  • “The weather wasn’t nice enough to go for a walk…”

Sure, these external challenges may impact your decision making, but at the end of the day it is still your choice to eat the donut, share the popcorn or skip the walk.

And you know what? Making that decision is fine as long as it’s YOU who makes it.

Since I wrote about this concept earlier in the year I’ve been very intentional about making decisions that will benefit my long term health goals while also nourishing my short term lifestyle desires.

What I’ve found is that I feel more in control of my actions and outcomes by simply being the one to choose.

I feel confident saying NO to certain things without feeling deprived, and I can experience great satisfaction from saying YES, without the situation then spiraling out of control and leaving me worse-for-wear.

Because by making the first decision, to say yes or no, I then give myself permission to make all the following decisions. For example: how much I eat, how long I participate in an activity, and when I want to do something different…that’s all up to me.

As it turns out, decision making is liberating!

This new habit is definitely one that I’m sticking with, so now I want to throw the gauntlet to you.

  • Have you been “going with the flow” a little too regularly in your own life?
  • Are you outsourcing your decisions (and then feeling regretful and perhaps even resentful)?
  • Are you willing to do something about it?

This week I challenge you to pay attention to both the decisions that you’re making AND those that you’re avoiding.

What choices do you shy away from, and why?

Finally, commit to making a new decision, just one to start, and put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your own health and happiness.

Of course, as always, let me know how you go by leaving a comment below.

 

 

With love,

How To Find Your Purpose & Unlock A Meaningful Life

We all need a purpose — something that fulfills us from the inside out, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, lets us stand on our own two feet throughout the day and fall asleep wrapped in the warm hug of contentment.

But here’s the kicker: your purpose, or at least part of it, must resonate only for you. Your PERSONAL purpose is different from your role as a mother, wife or daughter, and it’s different from your profession. Because, while worthy, if the entirety of your fulfillment is intricately linked to the needs of another, you’re leaving yourself open to the risk of one day waking up, purposeless.

Heavy, no?

I’ve known many women who have lost their sense of purpose once their children had grown or they left their careers. I’ve experienced it too, and it’s an aimless (and suffocating) feeling that, in the words of Bart Simpson, “both sucks and blows”.

We women, nurturers at heart, tend to be chameleons — in our desire to make other people happy, we arrange our days (perhaps our lives) to support THEIR likes, needs and hobbies, often at the expense of our own.

But to be our best selves, and live our best lives, we also need to achieve something that is just for us. This personal purpose is what keeps our lives meaningful on the individual level, but also gives us more to contribute to the world at large.

So it begs to ask, what does your personal purpose look like?

Read on for my simple four-step framework that will help you reconnect with your purpose this week.

Step One: choose your purposeful adjective

Before setting a specific goal or making a to-do list, I want you to first describe how you will feel at the end of a purposeful day. This will help you separate the tasks that are meaningful to you — those that will move the needle forward on your purpose-driven life — from the one’s that you think you SHOULD do (such as folding the laundry or wiping the top of the refrigerator).

Here are some words to get you started: healthy, content, feminine, thoughtful, grateful, courageous, organized, kind, relaxed, energized, satisfied…

Step Two: pick a goal of purpose

What is one thing that you would like to learn, do or achieve, that would give you the feeling that you described in Step One? What goal would make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning (or at least feel keen to give it a go once the coffee has kicked in)?!

This might be something completely new to your lifestyle, such as planning a trip, learning a new skill or volunteering; or it might be following through on tasks and hobbies that you had once started but never got around to finishing, such as completing a photo album or scrapbook, donating clothes to charity, or landscaping the garden.

Choose just ONE personal purpose goal for the week, and make sure that it’s something that will add meaning, satisfaction and joy to your life.

Step Three: decide your daily tasks

Now that you’ve narrowed down a weekly goal, you’ll choose one or two daily tasks that will help you achieve that goal, and give you the essential satisfaction of success.

Research has shown that consistent progress — achieving small bits every day — is more satisfying than completing everything in one big surge of effort. The daily progress makes us feel more fulfilled and motivated to follow through on our promises, and ultimately sows the seeds for a purposeful life.

After all, a purposeful life is nothing other than thousands purposeful days, quietly and consistently stacked one on top of the other. 

Let me give you an example of the three-step process thus far:

I want to feel organized and artistic.

My weekly goal is to complete the family scrapbook from our trip to Italy. This is something that I’ve wanted to complete for months; it will spark my creativity and remind me of the joy that we had on that trip (that makes me feel grateful for the life that I live, and the memories that I’ve created).

Monday: print trip photos

Tuesday: decide on color theme and layout of scrapbook

Wednesday: buy materials and set up my working space

Thursday: set aside two hours to complete scrapbook

Friday: make any final adjustments and pack away crafts

Saturday: share it with the family and reminisce about the trip (Step Four)

Step Four: reflect and validate

Reflecting on a job well done is what separates a successful day with a busy day.

Many of us have a tendency to focus on what we need to do, or on what we didn’t get to, which makes contentment hard to come by; it’s very hard to feel satisfied and fulfilled when you always feel weighed down with expectation of what comes next.

Instead, start acknowledging what you HAVE achieved by giving credit to your successes. In doing this you are creating a record of everything that you have accomplished, and staying connected to the meaningful life that you are creating, bit-by-bit, every single day.

I’ll leave you with the stirring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

So please, go out today and live your purpose. And then as always, let me know how it goes.

 

With love,

HEALTHY LIVING

29 Nuggets Of Healthy Living Gold

Today is my 29th birthday.

In just a little while I’ll be celebrating with the handsome Nathaniel, a glass of Moet and some very good cheese. But before I kick off my shoes and pop open that bottle of bubbly, I’m taking some time to reflect on the last (almost three) decades.

I sometimes look around at my life and think: huh, who would have ever thought that’d happen. Every year brings with it new surprises and adventures, and we never really know what will transpire next.

Growing up as girl in a beautiful yet small Australian country town, I never would have expected that I would find myself living in Los Angeles, married to a Southern boy, and teaching women how to feel fit, feminine and fabulous through healthy living and self care.

In fact, this life that I’m living never really crossed my mind…it just sort of happened!

At various times throughout my childhood I wanted to be: a gas station attendant (I loved washing windshields with a squeegee); a bank teller (I got a real kick out of counting coins and shuffling notes); and for a few years my aspiration to become a lawyer (which would justify the owning of a briefcase) butted heads with my desire to be a marine biologist (and swim with the dolphins every day).

What actually happened was that I got a degree in journalism and started teaching fitness.

Since then, a series of unforeseen events, saying yes to new opportunities and rolling with the flow of life has brought me to where I am today…sitting in the Miracle Mile, thinking that pre-breakfast mimosas sounds like a very civilized idea.

The road that takes us to where we need to go is rarely clear and often tricky to navigate. But what we discover with every step will shape us in ways that we could never have realized, had we not dared to step off the beaten path. 

With that in mind, and in honor of turning 29,  I wanted to share 29 things that I’ve learnt about healthy living and loving the skin you’re in.

And then I’d love to hear from you.

What one nugget of knowledge would you tell your younger self?  Like a rising tide lifts all boats, sharing our words of wisdom with one another makes us all stronger. So please, leave a comment below!

29 Things That I’ve Learnt About Healthy Living (And Loving The Skin You’re In)

Choose progress over perfection

There’s always room for improvement, so get comfy on the journey and take one new step each day.

Invest in your sleep

Clock enough hours in the land of nod, buy a great mattress and make your bedroom a serene sleep space (the preferred option is dark and quiet, with clean air).

Eat well to feel well

Making healthy food choices isn’t about dieting, it’s about showering your body with love and nutritious bites of goodness.

Define healthy for you

I know what a healthy life means to me and I don’t let other people impinge on that vision; this helps me make the right decisions for my body and life in any given situation.

Self care is what empowers us to give back to the world

By nourishing your own body and spirit with good food, water, movement, and me time, you’ll have more of everything to give to others.

Some is better than none

A five minute walk, a one minute meditation or two bites of broccoli…some will always be better than none.

Give up your need for control

Allow people, situations and events to simply be as they are, and notice how much more present and relaxed you become.

Breathing deeply is the miracle pill for anxiety

Inhaling and exhaling through your nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body rest, digest and recover.

Stop counting calories

That old myth is officially busted; the new kid on the block is to count nutrition, not calories.

There will always be more food

Farewell Clean Plate Society! Choose to stop eating when you’re satiated and keep your leftovers for another meal.

Exercise is a form of stress; approach it mindfully

A gentle 20 minute walk or a few mobility stretches is enough to feel the benefit of exercise without adding to your stress.

Fear is temporary, regret is permanent

It can feel really overwhelming, and even scary, to change your lifestyle habits. But it’s worth it.

Start before you are ready

Whether that’s cooking at home, exercising or learning a new skill; you don’t need to be a pro to be a participant.

What concerns me is my health and not the opinion of others

I choose to take care of my body rather than trying to change it in unhealthy ways to meet other people’s expectations.

Negative self talk is polluting your mind

You would never say that filthy stuff to your friend, so why do it to yourself? Being trapped in your own mind is holding you back from loving your body and life.

Listen to your body

The human body is wildly intelligent, with an innate capacity to heal and regenerate itself. Once you get out of your head you can listen to what your body needs.

There’s no one-size-fits all

The same set of rote recommendations won’t work for a 40 year old woman in Florida and a 65 year old woman in Minnesota; you need to put on your detective hat and figure out what works for you.

Fat is wonderful

Sugar on the other hand…

 If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got

Change happens outside your comfort zone…consider spending some more time out there.

It’s about building a lifestyle, not painting a finish line

There is no such a thing as a right or wrong decision when it comes to your wellness, there is only the decision that you make.

Sitting is the new smoking

Seriously! Get out of your chair regularly, park further away from the stores, shrug your shoulders up and down…just move your body.

Give up the need to label yourself

You’re a unique human being, regardless of the lifestyle choices that you make. Don’t trap yourself in to being “vegan” or “Paleo” or “a Yogi”. Just be you and do a bit of anything that enhances that

Trust your gut

Listen to your intuition and eat fermented foods!

KISS

People insist on making things difficult, such as healthy living. Don’t be one of them. Keep It Super Simple.

Find movements that fill you with joy

Exercise should be energizing and rewarding for your body and mind, so get out there and find some kind of activity that make you feel great.

Women need to put their health before their physique

Get healthy and you’ll love how your body looks; force your body into looking a certain way and chances are you won’t be healthy (or happy).

 Connect with nature

It reminds us that our place in the universe is bigger than our immediate problems.

You have more time that you think

Figure out your key life priorities and then make time for them.

Pantene was right

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen >>>

 

With love,

P.S. For the record, I still get a kick out of washing windows, counting coins and carrying a briefcase! Oh, and I did swim with dolphins one time!

healthy lifestyle | jennifer dene wellness

Struggling To Start Your Next Healthy Habit? Try This…

I’ve just gotten back from a wonderful 15 day holiday in Tuscany and London. It was such a good time that we actually extended our original 11 day trip by another three nights, delaying the inevitable return to reality.

But now that we’re home, I find myself sitting here, in the dark hours of Monday morning, feeling a little unsettled — how do I get back into the swings of things?

“Starting” can be an overwhelming thing. Whether that’s starting back at work after a holiday, starting a new healthy lifestyle, or really starting any new healthy habit. Thinking about how to get from A to B (post-holiday blues to normal life; couch potato to healthy, fit and flexible) seems to require a lot of personal motivation…a lot of digging deep.

While that can be a tough thing to do, it’s certainly not impossible. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do tackle any new task or goal? By breaking it down into more manageable pieces.

Take weight loss for example. Losing 50 pounds is, for most people, an intensely overwhelming weight loss goal, perhaps one that feels impossible. What do you have to do to lose 50 pounds? What changes will you have to make? How do you even begin? These questions feel so big, and the effort required feels so huge, that many people will stop before they even start. But what if the weight loss goal was only five pounds, not 50? Five pounds seems quite manageable, accessible with just a few small tweaks here and there. Losing five pounds is the first bite — you realize that yes, you can lose weight, and actually it wasn’t all that hard to do. So you move on to the next 5 pounds, and then the next, until eventually that 50 pound weight loss goal isn’t out of reach after all.

The same concept works for starting pretty much anything new. Here’s how it plays out in fitness, nutrition and self love:

Starting A New Exercise Routine

Doing an exercise class that calls for 10 full pushups on your first day at the gym is a terrible idea, one that will no doubt crush your fitness spirit. The better play would be to start with simple stretches, some full body movement, and try modified upper body exercises. After a while you will progress to planks, and then to kneeling pushups, until one day a few months down the road you’ll be doing pushups without a care in the world.

Eating More Vegetables

Buying 10 varieties of vegetables and attempting to cook an Ottolenghi dish as one of your first forays into healthy home cooking is a recipe for disaster. Instead, start simply with a head of broccoli and a couple of zucchini, a pot of boiling water, and some butter to toss through at the end. Heck, microwave them if that makes it easier to get more greens onto your plate.

Loving & Accepting Your Self

Expecting to love your body and your life after reading one self-help book is not realistic. Emotional change probably takes the longest of all, but starting gently with daily self-love and self-acceptance practices will over time change your perception of yourself, your life and your personal value. This is why I keep banging on about this self-care stuff and reminding you that we’re all works-in-progress!

This slow and steady approach may not be particularly thrilling but it is the most effective, and should be remembered when the overwhelming feeling of “starting” starts to sink in.

So I’m glad that I wrote this post this morning. Talking to you has helped me rethink my initial waking instinct (to take the world by storm) and quelled my initial waking panic (how on earth was I supposed to do that). It has allowed me to sit here and watch first light break across Los Angeles, my metaphorical elephant by my side, writing this post, and returning to reality one step at a time.

See you next week!

Cheers,

PERSONAL REBOOT CHECKLIST JENNIFER DENE WELLNESS

How To Get Out Of That Health Funk (Your Personal Reboot Checklist)

If you’re anything like me you might view yourself as a marvelous misfit, a fabulously faulty work in progress (WOP). I say that because I tend to attract women like myself, the kind who don’t live life by the book, those who don’t quite have it all together.

Please, take this as a compliment — I classify myself, my best friends, my husband and many members of my family as a bunch of wonderful weirdos!

Being a WOP woman means that life doesn’t always go to plan (our busy brains have a way of putting a kink in consistency). While some days are wonderful and let you live in the flow of life, others require a colossal amount of energy to just make it through to dinner time. Life as a WOP is a mishmash of flow and slog: achieving, dreaming, worrying, procrastinating…and so the cycle continues.

This can be especially true when it comes to healthy living; getting stuck in a nutrition, lifestyle or fitness funk is something that I know all too well.

Sometimes I feel totally bored doing the same activities day-in and day-out (a health rut), and other days I feel too tired, overwhelmed or lethargic to do these activities at all (a health funk) In the words of my mum: my get up and go has got up and gone.)

It can feel challenging to motivate yourself out of a funk — even taking the time to acknowledge that something needs to change can feel like too much effort.

But if you want to feel differently you need to act differently first.

This topic came up on a recent client call. My client and I were both having a bit of a funky time (unfortunately not in the Kool & the Gang kind of way) and so I told her about my Personal Reboot Checklist.

This checklist is something that I turn to when I feel like I’ve been out of the flow for long enough. It’s a simple series of tasks that I know will boost my mood, energy and my level of personal commitment, once completed. And it works like a charm.

Like a pilot who checks off each critical item before taking off in their plane, following this checklist is your safety guide for a smooth day of healthy living.

If you don’t have something like this in place I am excited for you! Today is the day that you’ll learn how to find your flow (and defunkify your healthy life).

Let’s dive in >>>

How To Make A Personal Reboot Checklist

There are seven categories in the personal reboot checklist. In each category you’ll designate one uplifting and motivating task. My preference is to choose tried-and true tasks, things that you know will make you feel more positive, energized and motivated…view this is as your best-of showreel!

I’ve provided some examples of the type of tasks that might fall into each category, but the idea is for you to customize the list and make it your own.

There are over 7 billion people on earth and no two of us are the same, so let this checklist be as unique and wonderful as you are!

Once completed, this checklist becomes your roadmap for any day that needs “defunkifying”. Ideally you will start at the top and work your way through until all tasks are completed, but if you’re short on time you can choose one or two of the scheduled tasks.

That’s enough talk — grab a pen and a piece of paper and let’s get rebooted:

 

  • Choose one song that lights a fire in your heart and write it here:

 

  • Choose one movement-based activity that you love and write it here:

(A beautiful nature walk, stretching, a go-to home workout routine, an exercise class, a personal training session, a swim, a long stroll with your puppy…)

  • Choose one meal that makes you feel grounded, satisfied and healthy and write it here:

(I recommend something with a nice bit of protein, some vegetables and healthy fat; for me it looks like lamb chops with roasted broccoli and fennel, sweet potato wedges and avocado slices)

  • Choose one personal care activity that makes you feel beautiful and write it here:

(Washing and styling your hair, putting on a face mask, shaping your nails or having a manicure, having a bath, dressing beautifully or doing makeup…)

  • Choose one small organizational item that makes you feel satisfied and write it here:

(Tidy the kitchen table, clean out your hand bag, make the bed, make that appointment call…)

  • Choose one relaxation practice that makes you feel peaceful and write it here:

(Deep breathing, meditation, reading, journaling, listening to music…)

  • Choose one relationship that makes you feel connected and write it here:

(You might call them, write a letter, send a text or even just send positive thoughts their way)

How To Implement This List

Start at the top:

  • listen to your song and be inspired
  • do that movement and reconnect with your body
  • eat that meal and feel grounded
  • complete that personal care activity and feel beautiful
  • do that organizational task and feel productive
  • enjoy that relaxation and feel centered
  • connect with that person and give love

Now I’d Love To Hear From You

Are you a WOP woman? Do you have days of flow and days of funk? What strategies do you use to get out of that rut and return to feeling energized, positive and inspired? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

With love,

P.S. I have worked with all types of women, from stay at home moms to retirees, the 9-5er to CEOs, talk show hosts and actors to athletes and those with disability, and let me tell you that we ALL get in a funk from time to time. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how successful your career is or how wonderful your marriage is, sometimes it’s hard to stay on track. And that, my friend, is a-ok. You’re not alone, and you’re certainly not faulty for having days (or weeks, months or even years) when you feel like you just can’t get it together. Remember, you’re a wonderfully, unique, ever changing, work in progress!

HAVE MORE TIME JENNIFER DENE WELLNESS

Want To Have More Time? Here’s How…

Have you ever wondered why it can feel so hard to take time for yourself? Even when you promise yourself a little bit of r&r there’s often something — another task, request or responsibility — that snatches that time away.

The truth is that modern life — our work and responsibilities  —doesn’t always leave us with much breathing space; but it’s also true that some people seem to have more time than others.

So what’s their secret, these women who have the time to simply sit down and enjoy a cup of tea? The answer is less about the way they DO things, and more with how they THINK about things.

In today’s exercise we’ll explore how your attitude towards time is holding you hostage to that never ending to-do list (and preventing you from feeling satisfied with what you’ve achieved at the end of the day).

This exercise is taken from my three part audio series: Take Back Your Time: Practical Lessons In Creating Time Freedom For A Healthy, Happy Life. Download the full series  here (videos and worksheets included)

 

“Should”, “Could” & “Get To”

How often do you catch yourself saying or thinking the words: I should…

“Should” is an expression of something that you think you have to do; an obligation or an expectation that you need to meet to view yourself as successful, generous, useful, important, etc…

I should fold laundry while I’m sitting on the couch…

I should get a head start on dinner to make things easier later on…

“Could,” on the other hand, expresses a conscious choice; it’s the start of a dialogue about how you spend your time.

I could go for a walk…

I could try a new recipe…

At the end of a “could” sentence is the unspoken “or”…this is you giving yourself options. By its very nature, “could” is a word that implies positivity and choice; you’ll even notice a difference in the inflection of your voice when you say it.

Compare these two:

I should go for a walk.

Golly, even writing this makes my feet feel heavy. It makes me wonder why I should go for a walk, which leads to me listing off all those unhealthy habits that I need to rectify with exercise. Yuck!

I could go for a walk.

Yep, definitely feeling more inspired. That could fit into this sentence: It’s a lovely day, I could go for a walk! Or this one: I’m going to exercise tomorrow morning, I could go for a walk or I could go for a swim.

In example number two, the walk becomes the reward and not the punishment. This sentence also reminds me that I’m the decision maker, and it gives me an option for how I spend my time.

Which brings me to your first challenge…

Step One: be a COULD person (not a SHOULD person).

You CAN choose how you spend your time and how you experience your everyday life.

But should every “should” become a “could”? (Ha, writing these sentences makes me feel like Dr. Seuss!)

Of course not!

If you’re a high-achiever it’s likely that you have a LOT of should’s floating around in your mind at any one time. I can hardly sit on my couch without thinking I should: water the plants, get rid of that cobweb, organize the DVR recordings, send an email, file my fingernails, plan a vacation, fold laundry, book a dentist appointment…apparently it’s exhausting to relax at my house!

But just because there are should’s that could be done, doesn’t mean you have to do them. Filling your day to the brim with “should” tasks doesn’t necessarily:

  • Move you closer to your three key life priorities (learn about these by downloading the full series here)
  • Create free space for the future (there will always be more should’s)
  • Make you a more important/interesting/useful/insert-adjective-here person. It just makes you tired.

Step Two: Shelve some of the should’s…

Here’s how:

  1. Look at your current To-Do list, or think about all of those odds and ends floating around in your brain
  2. How many of these tasks made it on to that list because of the sentence: I should do…?

“I should clean out the linen cupboard.”

“I should sort the winter clothing.”

“I should get a head start on Christmas presents.”

“I should attend that community meeting.”

While (in an ideal world) you would be able to cross these arbitrary tasks off that list, they’re actually not critical to the functioning of your day-to-day life. In fact, spending time on these “should” tasks could actually be taking you further away from reaching your healthy living goals.

Can you guess my simple solution? Just cross them off your list…right now. Liberation!

Your list will now have a sprinkling of could items, to be kept as options in your back pocket, as well as those activities that you couldn’t cross off, even if you wanted to (hello work obligations, mammograms and flossing your teeth)!

These remaining obligations are necessary for the functioning of your day-to-day life, and there are two ways of looking at that…

Step Two: living with a “have to” mindset versus a “get to” mindset

I have to go to work…

I get to go to work…

I have to meet (name) for a coffee…

I get to meet (name) for a coffee…

I have to workout with my personal trainer…

I get to workout with my personal trainer…

While this positive language trick won’t necessarily buy you more time, it will help you feel more enthusiastic about the way you’re spending that time. And who knows, spending less time procrastinating on things like work and exercise could free up more free space each day after all.

Try this one on for size: I get to workout with my personal trainer and then I could have a relaxing bath or read a book!

The solution?

Commit to adding a positive spring to your language step to make your “get to” activities even more enjoyable.

Let’s summarize today’s exercise!

  1. Use the word “could” in sentences, to remind yourself that you do have a choice in how you spend your time
  2. Cross off all the arbitrary “should” tasks on your to-do list (if they haven’t been done yet the world won’t end if they stay that way)
  3. Be positive in your language when describing tasks you get to do

A thought to ponder as you move throughout your week: what you do is less important than WHY you do it. What’s your reason behind your should’s, could’s and get to’s? If the answer doesn’t move you, consider letting it go.

 

With love,

healthy evening routine

A Healthy Evening Routine: It Takes More Than Greens & Gratitude

Lately I’ve been pondering the multiple layers of health. From what we eat to how we think and who we spend time with, our whole lifestyle plays a role in our ability to feel well. In today’s blog post I’m looking at how our social connections influence the perception we have of our own lives, and why acknowledging struggles helps us endure. At the end of this short post I’ve shared a simple healthy evening routine that will help you make great progress on the lifestyle goals that you’re currently working on.

Since moving to America in 2011 I’ve been rather forward about making friends. As an introvert, a bookworm, and someone who likes to be in her pajamas at 6pm, this has been quite the turn around for me.

Here’s how it usually plays out:

  1. I meet a woman at a gathering, a fitness studio or through a mutual connection
  2. I ask her out for a tea or a walk*
  3. We suss each other out and see if we want to talk about the possibility of friendship

*I tend to choose activities that are fairly noncommittal for the first “date”. Lunch or dinner add a certain amount of pressure…it’s a long time to make chit-chat with a stranger and there’s the chance that you’ll end up smiling with lettuce in your teeth.

Some of these dates have turned into life-long friendships, while others can be simply chalked up to “experience”.

This is fine by me. As someone who would rather go deep with one person than have shallow connections with 100, I’m perfectly happy with just a handful of close friends.

But what I’ve learnt, in becoming a serial friend-dater, is that many people have a hard time going deep, getting real, and being open and vulnerable to someone else. I’ve noticed this in real life as well as online, where presenting an idealized version of yourself to the world is more important than being authentic.

In the past year alone I’ve gone on several coffee dates with women in my industry who, after introducing themselves, proceeded to spend five full minutes taking photos of their turmeric latte from several different angles to post on social media. Later that day these photos would pop into my Instagram feed with the caption: “SO much fun getting to know the lovely Jennifer Dene today.” But really, how well could they know me after 45 minutes of surface-level conversation?

This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy networking or meeting new people…in fact, I love it. But I do feel that too many women spend too much time crafting the perfect version of themselves for public consumption, without giving enough attention to their private struggles.

Nowhere is it more important to be honest and open than on the topic of our physical, emotional and mental health. Knowing where we want to improve, or when we need to ask for help, is a crucial component of our well being. So it’s time to get raw and real, and stop comparing your inside to someone else’s outside.

Today’s simple exercise will help you appreciate what you have, reflect on where you’re struggling, and make progress towards where you want to be. So grab a pen and let’s do it to it.

A Healthy Evening Routine

Every evening answer the following questions:

  1. What is one thing that I am grateful for from today?
  2. What are two things that I struggled with today?
  3. What are three possible solutions that I can think of, that will help me overcome those struggles in the future?
  4. Who can I turn to and ask for help, support or companionship, should I need it?

This exercise is simple and profound, so I hope you’ll give it a go.

And then let me know what you think of today’s topic by leaving a comment below.

With love,

P.S. You might also like to read my morning routine post here.

Live Mindfully Jennifer Dene

Why We Need To Live Mindfully (Or How I Flushed My Paycheck Down The Toilet)

I lost a lot of money on Saturday. I wasn’t gambling. I didn’t make a bad business deal. I simply…misplaced it.

Subsequent hours were spent in a somewhat frantic search. Did I lose it in the house? Perhaps I dropped it during errands? Could I have accidentally put it in the mailbox?

My concern for losing the money was matched by the unsettling thought that I simply couldn’t remember why. What had I been doing before, during and after that time? I mentally tried to retrace my steps, only to hit a brain deadend at every turn.

And so it went…All weekend.

While I’m not thrilled at flushing away a week’s hard work, the outcome could have been so much worse.

I didn’t lose my health or ruin my relationships. I just lot some cash.

And as sore as it might make me feel, part of me is grateful. This was an important (albeit expensive) reminder that I haven’t been living mindfully, and I needed to slow down. 

Lesson Learned: If YOU don’t slow down the universe will send something that will slow things down for you.

2017 started with a bang; from early January I hit the ground running and I haven’t really stopped. Even though I’ve been very conscious of checking the seven core boxes of my basic health, this one thing was obviously still lacking.

Mindfulness is the mental state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s the ability to focus your awareness on the present moment, while calm acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.

In contrast to this description,I’ve spent this year multi-tasking and multi-thinking. Sometimes I imagine that my brain is hosting a national ping-pong tournament; where ideas, to-dos, memories and premonitions bounce through my cranial arena with alarming speed.

And even though I’ve been working on being more mindful of late, I clearly still have a long way to go.

Which brings me to my focus for this week: For the next 10 days I’m going to spend 10 minutes in meditation to live more mindfully. (This won’t be meditation like “om” and flying elephants, but simply a practice of bringing awareness to my breath, body and physical surroundings.)

I’m committed to this every day for 10 days…probably in the early afternoon, when those ping-pong players are warming up their paddles.

Perhaps you’d like to join me.

To make it easier I’m going to use an app called Headspace. Headspace offers a free 10 day guided meditation series, narrated by buddhist monk (and juggler extraordinaire) Andy Puddicombe. I’ve used the app in the past and I like that it keeps me centered and focused on what I’m doing. 

Sharing new resources is something that I’ll try to do more of this year. I’ll also start sharing some of my own little life experiments with you, both to invite you on the journey and to remind you that none of us have this healthy living thing completely figured out.

Starting with Jenn’s self improvement strategy #1 = live mindfully (especially before more of my retirement fund goes down the gurgler).

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Now I’d Love To Hear From You

Do you ever feel like you can’t keep up with your brain? Are you living on autopilot, or getting stressed over little things, for no apparent reason. If so, are you willing to join me on this 10 day experiment?

Or perhaps you already take mindfulness seriously and have established a daily practice. If you do, I’d love to hear about what that looks like for you.

Please join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

With love,

Jennifer Dene

Resources mentioned: Headspace