HEALTHY WEEKNIGHT COOKING

Make Healthy Weeknight Cooking A Breeze

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved planning menus, organizing dinner parties and generally just daydreaming about food stuff.

At school I doodled appetizer ideas in the margins of my math book — calculus equations would morph into lists of fried zucchini flowers, smoked salmon blinis, and morsels of sweet splendor.

After class I would come home and pull down every cookbook from the shelf above the fridge, sit down with a cup of tea and a notepad, and get to work on organizing what the family would eat for dinner that week.

My suggestions regularly included things like:

Tuesday: 8 hour lamb ragu over polenta

Wednesday: braised quail with wild mushrooms

Thursday: spinach and ricotta stuffed conchiglioni with scratch-made marina sauce

By the time my mum got home from work I had the shopping lists made, the recipe pages marked, and I was ready to hit the grocery store and start work in the kitchen.

Oddly, Mum wasn’t as keen on whipping up a three-course meal as I might have thought, which always confused me as she loved food and cooking as much as I did. All she had to do was work an 8+ hour day, look after two kids, a dog, and a massive garden, pay bills, exercise, stay up to date on current affairs…I mean, what gives?

Fast forward ten years and the ball has dropped. I totally get it. The last thing that I want to do after a busy work day is spend hours in the kitchen on a meal that, to be honest, I may end up eating in front of an episode of Grace & Frankie.

(In hindsight my mum was actually a domestic goddess, serving up exotic stir-fry, handmade chicken pot pie, and incredible salads on a nightly basis.)

That isn’t to say that I don’t still spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about dinner parties and planning lovely menus, but my weekly rotation is a heck of a lot more simple than it used to be.

These days I’m happy with simple food, like baked salmon and veggies, chicken and rice soup, or tossing something on the grill.

Because as my mum knew, choosing food that is tasty, nourishing and quick to prepare makes it easy to consistently eat healthy meals.

With that in mind, try using these three tips this week, to simplify your healthy weeknight cooking routine. 

Make Healthy Weeknight Cooking A Breeze

Tip #1: Use one cooking method

You can boil, steam, roast, grill or serve raw…but don’t try to do them all at once.

Roast: In the same oven you can roast vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, tomato, fennel, sweet potato…) and cook a bit of protein (chicken, fish, tofu, lamb chops, meatballs…).

Steam: Use a large saucepan with a steaming insert to simultaneously cook rice, and steam greens and chicken or fish on top; squeeze with lemon and drizzle with sesame oil to serve.

Grill: Cut vegetables into thin strips, brush them with coconut oil and season to taste, then cook alongside whatever meat or fish you’re grilling; it’s also delicious to skip the meat and serve with grilled haloumi cheese instead.

Raw: Go vegan and make a chopped salad with any raw vegetables that you like, a can of drained chickpeas, and lashings of olive oil and lemon juice.

Tip #2: Cook once, eat thrice

Cooking from scratch every day is not time-efficient. 

In fact, it takes the same amount of time to roast one or two chickens, to bake multiple sweet potatoes, or to cook four cups of quinoa. You can even batch make salads and leave undressed until serving. (Cheeky salad!)

Leftovers become the saving grace of healthy eating during the week, so I recommend that you regularly plan to cook more than you need and reserve the rest for another meal; store in the fridge for quick assembly over the next couple of day, or freeze them for future use.

(We’ve just discovered that chopped and roasted sweet potatoes actually defrost really well…this was a very happy realization in my house, where the sweet potato currently reigns supreme!)

Tip #3: Keep it simple

The benefit of simple cooking is three-fold:

  1. It eliminates the challenge of meal planning and makes preparing food feel manageable, even for the novice cook
  2. You’ll save money on groceries as you’ll buy fewer ingredients and use them all
  3. And it helps keep you honest about what is on your plate and how much you’re eating

Your Challenge

This week I challenge you to keep it simple in the kitchen: choose one meal, one cooking method and use six ingredients or less. Make a double batch and repurpose it for lunch or dinner the next day.

Here’s What I’m Doing Tonight — Grilled Lamb Chops

  • Lamb loin chops
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potato
  • Asparagus
  • Coconut Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Cut the vegetables into 1/4” strips, brush with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Cook the lamb chops and vegetables until done to deliciousness. Serve.

Leftovers: slice leftover lamb and vegetables and toss it over lettuce for a lunch salad.

Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

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!

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!

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

The Key Weight Loss & Self Love

Hello again! I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for the last few weeks, as I spent a month frolicking in the beautiful Australian countryside. Taking that time away from my normal routine (and not feeling like I had to come up with all the answers to life’s questions) allowed me to have a good think about who I want to be in 2017, how I want to live my life, and how I can help you do the same.

During my month-long musings I noticed something about myself that, truth be told, surprised me a little. I realized that I’ve become a “when this will happen, that will happen” kind of person.

Let me explain…

Over the past few years I’ve taken to thinking that I need external circumstances to change before I can really accomplish the goals that I’ve set myself. I’ve assumed that it will be easier to achieve what I want to achieve once XYZ happens.

For example, I thought that:

  • When I got that job at the new Pilates studio… I would automatically become fitter.
  • When I reorganized my kitchen… I would happily cook more at home.
  • When I went on that holiday… I would return happier and more motivated than when I left.
  • When I relocated…I would naturally be more confident and make more friends.
  • When I reached my goal weight…I would love myself.

But it rarely turned out that way.

Saying that something will be different, doesn’t make it so. Nothing comes from words or thoughts that aren’t followed by actions.

I’ve known this, I’ve experienced this, but until now I haven’t truly internalized it.

The truth is, that for something in our life to change, we need to make a change first. You can’t think your way into a better body, a happier marriage, or a more fulfilling career, if all you do is think about it. Thinking, writing or speaking goals, aren’t worth a dime if they aren’t followed by action.

So, as we start the new year I want to ask you this: Are you ready to take action? Are you ready to take action to create a body and a life that you love, even if all the pieces of the puzzle haven’t yet fallen into place?

I’m ready to take that challenge, and I invite you to do the same.

Now I’d Love To Hear From You:

  1. Have you ever relied on external circumstances changing before you can become the person you want to be?
  2. Or, perhaps you’ve never experienced the “when this happens, that will happen” thought process. If that’s the case, what’s your secret to taking purposeful action?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

It’s great to be back with you.

With love,

JDW Signature

*PS Remember that massive blue planner that I lugged across the world? Other important items that made their way into my suitcase included: curry paste (a lot of curry paste), Kraft peanut butter, tins of tuna, leaf tea, and, somewhat awkwardly, three crushable boxes of salt and vinegar chips. I packed those in my carry on, of course. Now if I can just figure out how to transport a couple of legs of lamb…

New Year’s resolutions stick | Jennifer Dene Wellness

Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick

I have a thing for planners. Specifically paper planners, or “diaries” as we call them in Australia.

One of the most exciting things about starting a New Year is having a brand-spanking new planner. The pages crisp and clean. 12 months of unwritten potential.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Maybe not…my husband doesn’t.

In fact, just the other day he actually laughed at me when I told him that I bought a (rather oversized, rather heavy) planner here in Australia, to take back with me to L.A.

Yes, it may be as long as my forearm. And yes, it may be two inches thick. And yes, it may be pre-filled with all of the Australian public holiday dates, not the US dates. But it’s a beautiful blue and it fills me with optimism for the year ahead.

Frankly, I see it as a practical and economic way to take up suitcase space!

Which brings me to the point of today’s post: how to make New Year’s Resolutions Stick.

Now, I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions…vague promises of self improvement aren’t necessarily an effective way of achieving personal goals.

But there is something about the transition between years that makes goal-setting seem more achievable. So let’s ride that wave of motivation and set some clear and practical resolutions, to make 2017 your healthiest, happiest year yet.

How To Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Step One: The “Mini Year”

Rather than thinking of 2017 as one 12-month year, break it down into four 90 day mini-years.

12 months is too long to commit to anything — except marriage I suppose — so let’s shorten the playing field. I learnt this concept recently from a friendly fellow by the name of Todd Hermann. It’s my first year putting it into practice too, so we’ll be experimenting together.

Step Two: Have A Quarterly Focus

Only pay attention to the first 90 day period, the rest can be neatly marked in the planner as “the future”.

How liberating!

Step Three: Make A Goal List

Take some time to think about your top health, lifestyle or personal goals. These might include weight loss, weight gain, stress reduction, spending more time with family, getting fit, eating less sugar, cooking more at home, feeling professionally fulfilled…or something different altogether.

Step Four: Choose Your Top Priority

From that list choose the one thing that is absolutely your top priority. This becomes your main goal for the next three months.

Next Steps >>>

Now, if you’re anything like me you probably think that you can achieve more than one big goal in 90 days. Right?

Wrong.

It’s too complicated and too overwhelming to try and change everything at once, and splitting your efforts across multiple endeavors makes it less likely that you’ll have achieved anything come April.

So keep it simple and effective by choosing one main goal to focus on, and follow through with it until you have success!

Now that you’ve gotten this far, you’ll need to think about exactly WHAT you need to do to reach that goal in 90 days. This part is crucial; breaking your big goal down into simple bite-sized pieces is the difference between success and failure.

And I can help!

If you’d like to set and achieve your number one health, lifestyle or personal goal in the first 90 days of 2017 here’s what you can do:

Book A Strategy Call With Me

This one hour call is all about YOU. Together we’ll work out the exact steps that you need to take to reach your number one goal.

(Can’t figure out your number one priority? I’ll help you with that too!)

As always, my advice is personalized and super simple, so you can start to see results straight away. You’ll also get a recording of our Skype session to replay at any time, and a full set of notes.

Book your strategy call with me here ($97)

Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you’d like more guidance and support throughout your 90 day “year” then you will love Weight Loss That Lasts — my signature 1:1 fitness, nutrition and lifestyle program that shows you how to transform your body and life in the simplest way possible.

You can learn more here, or immediately book your free 15 minute consultation with me here.

I truly believe that we’re all going to rock the socks off 2017, so let’s do it to it.

With love,

JDW Signature

P.S. Can’t find a call time that works with your schedule? Or have more questions about the Strategy Call or 1:1 Program? Just shoot me an email by clicking here.

How To Make Healthy Decisions - Jennifer Dene

How To Make Healthy Decisions (And Why We Don’t Like To)

I was at the supermarket the other day and I wanted to buy a bag of chips. I headed into the snack aisle, my eyes scanning the shelves, my hands not knowing whether to reach for potato or corn. (I adore them all.)

“Are we getting chips?” my husband asked.

“Ummm, maybe. I was thinking about it. Do YOU want some?” came my response.

Our conversation continued…

Him: “Sure, if you want them.”

Me: “I don’t really mind.” (I did.) “We’ll only get them if you feel like them.”

And continued…

Him: “Let’s not worry then, I don’t really feel like chips tonight.”

Me: “Are you sure? You might want some later. Maybe we should get them just in case…but only if YOU want.”

Can you see what was happening here? Despite the fact that I wanted chips I wasn’t willing to say the simple words “I’m going to buy myself a bag.”

Why?

Because I didn’t want to be responsible for making that decision.

I catch myself doing this from time-to-time, outsourcing my decisions so that it’s not my fault if things don’t pan out.

It’s a habit I don’t like and one that I’m changing, but it still catches me out every now and again.

Home cooking is a simple decision: you either cook or you don’t.

Exercising is a simple decision: you either do it or you don’t.

Drinking wine on a Tuesday night is a simple decision: you either drink it or you don’t.

These are some of the decisions that I battle with, and that I might pass off to someone else, even though the “right” choice is both personal and situational. Some days exercising is the best decision, other days it’s not. Sometimes getting take-out is great, other times it’s not.

You might not always make the right decision, but you do have to be willing to make a decision, especially if taking control of your health is important to you.

This month I’m committed to making my own healthy living decisions, with authority and without guilt, to see how the choices that I’m making affect my health, my happiness and the quality of my life.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

With love,

JDW Signature

stop feeling stressed

Stop Feeling Stressed: How To Manage Your Overwhelm

In today’s post I’m talking about overwhelm, and I’m going to share with you one simple strategy to help you stop feeling stressed right now. 

But first I want to assure you that if you’re feeling overwhelmed you’re not alone. In fact, according to a 2016 survey from the American Psychological Association, over 40% of Americans feel stressed on a regular basis.

And lately I’ve been one of them. (Well, I’m an honorary American I guess…)

Here’s a little glimpse into my life over the past 20 months. Here I am, a 20-something Australian woman with a degree in journalism, working in the health and fitness industry, husbanded-up, and driving a little red Mazda across the USs from North Carolina to Los Angeles.

A little interesting perhaps, but not too out of the ordinary. That is, until you take into account the following:

  1. We had never visited L.A. before deciding to move
  2. We didn’t know anyone there 
  3. Neither of us had jobs in California — Nate would continue to fly back to the East Coast (poor chap) and I would… figure it out.

Fast forward to 2016 and we’re happily settled in, loving life in our beautiful home and making great new friends. This is also when I decide to expand my business online — hello jenniferdenewellness.com!

And that’s where overwhelm kicked in.

In addition to my work in the health and fitness industry I had suddenly become… a web developer, a graphic designer, a marketing and sales director, a bookkeeper, and so much more. I’m also still trying to become somewhat fluent in social media speak >>> #progressnotperfection >>> #whydowehavetousehashtags

It would be an understatement to say that there’s been a lot to learn, and some days the stress levels have gotten kind of high. Like, 1960s flower-child-at-a-music-festival high.

But stress is just stress, and overwhelm is just overwhelm, and it happens to us all. The key is getting a handle on it before it spirals out of control, which is why I love today’s stress management exercise.

So grab some paper and a pencil and let’s do this thing. 

How To Stop Feeling Stressed NOW

This exercise works so well because it gets the mess out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Having all those thoughts bumping about in our brains, like dodgem cars at a carnival, can often make situations feel more overwhelming than they actually are. Seeing things written out allows you to logically categorize and start dealing with each individual item.

I definitely recommend that you do this exercise on an actual sheet of paper;  the physical act of writing engages different parts of our brain and helps us better process the information that we’re working on. Plus, taking a break from your computer is a quick stress-buster in-and-of-itself.

So let’s do it!

Step One – The Brain Dump

Write down everything you can think of that is making you feel stressed or overwhelmed. This might include actual tasks that you need to complete, goals that you’re working towards, and even less tangible thoughts and worries, such as feeling stressed about what the weather will do tomorrow. Spend no more than 3 minutes on this step.

Step Two – Make Four Categories

Take four different colored pens and circle your items according to the categories below:

  1. Must fix now
  2. Future self will deal with that
  3. Someone else can deal with that
  4. Not within my power

Be really clear about what items absolutely have to be done now, those that can wait for another time, and those that you don’t personally have to do. Items that are “not within my power” include worrying about the weather, worrying about the plane being delayed, or worrying about something else just for the sake of worrying. Spend no more than 5 minutes on this step.

Step Three – Consolidate Your Lists

Take a new piece of paper and write out only those items that you circled “must fix now”. This list should not be very long and only contain your highest priority tasks. Wondering what goes here? Ask yourself which tasks will make the biggest positive difference to how you feel about yourself and your life.

Then, take another piece of paper and write out only those items that you circled “future self will deal with that” — this is where all those non-urgent tasks go. You’ll probably notice that a lot of the items on this list are not really important… so why are you stressing about them? It’s likely that these are your procrastination-tasks, the ones that make you feel busy and productive but actually prevent you from completing items that really matter.

Spending too much time each day focusing on your “future self” list is draining your energy and limiting your potential for success. Focus on today, spend time completing the tasks that matter, and use that feeling of accomplishment to override overwhelm.

Step Four – Delegate:

Ask yourself which items from these two lists can be done by someone else. For example, if cleaning the house is a regular source of frustration then have a cleaner come in and help you, it’s cheaper than paying for a therapist! Make moves to outsource those tasks immediately. 

Step Five – Trash Your Stress

Quickly scan the very first list that you made, the brain dump, and read the items that you circled “not within my power”. Place your hand over your heart and say out loud: “I have no control over these situations and worrying about them isn’t benefiting anyone”. Then burn that piece of paper and let those concerns go up in flames with it. 

Step Six – Moving Forward (Calmly & Gracefully)

You’re now left with two lists, your high priority list, and your future self list. Read the latter and make a note of when you would realistically need to revisit the items here. Are they going to become important at a future date, or will they remain to be non-urgent tasks that you can complete at a later stage? You can make a note on your calendar to review this list in a few weeks, or just return to it if you find yourself with some extra time to kill. Now put it out of sight (and out of mind).

Finally, return to your high priority list. These tasks are the only items that have even the smallest claim on your stress levels, but we’re fabulous and feminine women, and a little to-do list is not going to get the best of us.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Choose the task that is the fastest to complete and make a mark next to it.
  • Choose the task that is most important to complete and make a mark next to it.
  • Acknowledge that these are the only two tasks that you need to focus on (not worry about) right now, and take action to complete them in the most timely manner possible.
  • Once both of these items have been checked off you can return to your priority list and choose another two.
  • Continue in this way until you’ve crossed off each item on that list.

In Conclusion…

Of course there are many other stress-management strategies that you can benefit from. Things like meditation, self-care exercises, coaching, physical activity, eating well, and spending time unplugged from technology should be a regular part of your routine. 

But there is a method to this list-making madness. Doing this exercise has hopefully helped you realize how many things you’ve been worrying about that you either can’t control, or you don’t need to worry about right now. It should also have cleaned up your mental clutter and shown you that even those things that might seem a little overwhelming at the moment can be tackled simply and methodically.

As you continue with your week I would encourage you to let go of stress for the sake of stress, and channel that same energy into being focused, productive and content.

See you next week!

With love,

JDW Signature

P.S. I recorded this video on Facebook live, which is why it’s a little less clear (and why I said “hi Nate” as he popped into the live video recording!) Join me on Facebook here.