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 evening habits

5 Things To Do Tonight (And Enjoy Tomorrow Even More)

Do you jump out of bed at the buzz of the alarm?

Or are you more closely acquainted with SNOOZE than the first rays of sunshine?

Personally I’ve never been one to stick my head under the pillow. I compare waking up to ripping off a Bandaid — if you’ve got to get it done, you might as well just do it.

(But that might just be the country girl in me speaking.)

While my morning enthusiasm is partly sparked by the 10 minute routine I do after I get up (check it out here), there are 5 other habits that I haven’t shared with you, which really put a spring in my sleepy-eyed step…

In fact, it’s the five activities that I complete BEFORE I go to bed that make the biggest difference.

In the video below I’m going to walk you through the five things that you can do tonight to enjoy tomorrow even more, all of which are simple, practical and adaptable for your lifestyle.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.

To Recap, Here’s What We Covered

Evening Ritual #1: Protect Your Neck From Computer Posture

  • Fixing “chicken neck” isn’t as easy as seeing a Hollywood plastic surgeon, so you’d better start working on yours now!
  • Computer posture that causes you to stick your chin forward can put up to 60 pounds of extra pressure on your neck and spine, which over time can lead to disc compression, migraines, and neck and shoulder pain
  • In the video below I’m demonstrating exactly what those neck flexor exercises look like — try them tonight

 

Evening Ritual #2:  Turn Off All Screens 30 Minutes Before Bed

  • There are (at least) three good reasons to shut down your technology well before hitting the hay:
    • The blue light disrupts melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep
    • Media is stimulating and you need to give your brain a break
    • Your favorite show is ruining any chance of developing an “early bed time” routine

 

Evening Ritual #3: Tidy Your Kitchen

  • Now you’ve shut down the tech a little earlier you can take some time to potter in the kitchen
  • Sit out things for a healthy breakfast (or your morning cup of Joe)
  • Put away anything that needs to be cleared…
  • It’s such a treat to wake up and see this neat space!

 

Evening Ritual #4: Journal For Gratitude & Reflection

  • “Busy brain syndrome” occurs when you’re body is tired but you’re mind is on fire with to-do’s, concerns and the random thoughts that only occur after lights out 
  • Not surprisingly, this is not conducive for getting a good nights sleep
  • My remedy is to do a quick evening journal practice that focuses on gratitude and reflection (learn about it here)

 

Evening Ritual #5: Set Out Tomorrow’s Clothes

  • Setting out an outfit before you go to bed saves the hassle of finding clothes in the morning…
  • This leaves you extra AM time for doing nice things…
  • I recommend making a healthy breakfast, taking a walk or catching up with a good book

 

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any evening rituals that make you excited to wake up the next day?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

With love,

People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle

What To Do When People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle

I recently had afternoon tea with a couple of close friends in Sydney. It had been about 8 months since we’d last seen each other, during which time I knew they had made some dietary tweaks. Being the curious health coach that I am, I wanted to ask them how it all went.

They told me that by making a few simple lifestyle updates — and bringing just a little more awareness to what was going on their plate — they’ve landed on a way of eating that makes them look and feel great.

I was thrilled! I love hearing that simple strategies bring great results, as that’s my philosophy through and through.

Yet as we chatted more about food, our conversation revealed a challenge that my friends had been facing. It was something that I’m also intimately familiar with and it rings true for many friends and clients who have chosen to shake things up in the healthy living department.

It’s been my experience that when you change how you eat – specifically, when you choose to become a more healthy eater – it’s not uncommon to feel isolated, teased or even ostracized by people that you know.

That’s why in today’s post I wanted to talk about how to handle this situation, as you may experience it too.

Let’s start with WHY “changing your diet” is such a touchy subject.

At its most fundamental level food is nothing more than a source of energy, vitamins and minerals. But we all know that it’s more than that.

Food is culture, family tradition, memories, and at the heart of many (if not most) social events.

This can make it a tricky subject to talk about.

You see, when you decide to change your diet it can send a message to the people around you that you no longer agree with something that you used to do. This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that what you’re changing is most likely something that they’re still doing. You’re upsetting the status quo, and they might see you as judging the lifestyle choices they’ve made.

In short, your personal development choices might make people uneasy.

Let me give you an example:

In 2009 one of my best friends was diagnosed with Chron’s disease and placed on a strict anti-inflammatory diet. Despite already being a healthy eater, this was a major lifestyle change (especially for someone who was only 21).

Back then, anti-inflammatory diets weren’t really a big thing. Paleo and veganism lived on the fringes of society, and many people thought autoimmune diseases sounded a little woo-woo…a little “all in their heads”.

So one day my friend told our group that she would no longer be able to participate in our Friday night habit of drinking gin and tonics, and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

That didn’t go down so well.

Without minimizing my own culpability — I can remember using the expression “you can’t even have one?” —  I can tell you that another member of our group (let’s call her ‘Z’) was absolutely shattered.

“What good is it to live in a world where you can’t eat ice cream?” she cried dramatically.

The next Friday night my friend arrived at our house with an apple, a carrot, a bag of nuts and a bottle of water. Z was appalled and couldn’t stop talking about how “dangerous” and “extreme” this diet was.

(Apples, it seems, can have that effect on some people.)

You see, by changing her own diet my friend was challenging the shared Friday night experience that we had come to know and love. Her choices made us all question if we should do things differently too.

To be honest, we weren’t even thinking about WHY she was making those updates (and in hindsight, offering to support her through the process would have been the preferred reaction), but we were only thinking about ourselves.  We didn’t like feeling guilty about our own choice to be less than healthy on Friday nights and it seemed to us like she no longer wanted to be part of the pack.

But the silly thing is, that wasn’t her intent at all.  She was just making the best decision for herself, and for whatever reason that made us feel uncomfortable.  I learned then and there that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and we all need to take ownership of our individual lifestyle decisions.

Since then I’ve been blazing my own healthy trail, which means that I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of healthy living criticism, and while I don’t believe that people do it maliciously, after a while it does get pretty old.

So in the video below I’m sharing three strategies that you can use to minimize these sorts of experiences, which will allow you to eat what you want, when you want, without feeling judged OR making other people too uncomfortable.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.

What To Do When People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle

 

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever felt shunned for making healthy lifestyle changes? How did you handle it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

With love,

best healthy lifestyle habits | Jennifer Dene Wellness

The Best Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Sophisticated Women

I’ll be the first to admit that I was no math whiz growing up. 

In fact, I remember sitting in 9th grade advanced mathematics, tears streaming down my face, while my very intelligent, but not at all understanding teacher, Mr Patel, stood over my desk and pointed at the unanswered equation on my page.

“What’s the answer? What is it? What does this mean?” 

I guess he figured that by repeatedly jabbing the end of his spindly finger onto my ink-smudged page — and asking me the same question over and over, in slightly different ways — that the Albert Einstein-esque lightbulb would switch on in my brain, and I’d be able to provide the correct answer.

As you can guess, that didn’t happen. 

Mercifully, the next week I was dropped to basic mathematics with the tolerant Mrs Dwyer in room 17J.

Now you may be wondering what this story has to do with your health and happiness, which is a fair question to ask.

Well, scarring childhood memories aside (and the fact that I still struggle to multiply anything that doesn’t end in “0” or “5”), I’m actually a rather big fan of financial books.

And in my readings I’ve realized that my healthy living philosophy is very similar to my take on finding financial freedom. That is to say: a simple and sustainable strategy is going to reap more rewards than a flash-in-the-pan investment with the promise of a quick return.

Play the smart game and you’ll be set up for success…

But try to cut corners for an overnight win and you’ll ultimately find yourself $10,000 in the hole, or in this case, 10 more pounds overweight.

I came to this conclusion after comparing my wellness programs, and health and nutrition philosophy, to those currently making headlines in the glossy magazines.

The popular stuff is very sexy:

  • Add butter to your coffee and lose 10 pounds by Friday!
  • Restrict calories two days a week and eat whatever you want the rest of the time!
  • Train so hard that you want to throw up, and you only need be in the gym for 10 minutes a day!

My stuff, it seems, is more like what your mum might have told you growing up:

  • Eat your greens…
  • Get good quality sleep…
  • Be nice to yourself…
  • Don’t eat directly out of the chip bag…

It’s ok, you can admit that it seems less cool…

I know it too. 

But if you’ve been following along with me for a while you’ll realize that I actually have very little interest in being cool — largely because it’d put a cramp in my “pajamas by 6pm” evening routine.

My main concern is with creating a healthy lifestyle that is simple, effective and sustainable.

And the problem is that “cool” and “sustainable” tend not to go hand-in-hand.

So you have a choice to make, my dear friend. Here are your two options:

  1. Be cool today and then commit to staying up to date with the latest trends, fads and quick fixes. (Warning: results not guaranteed.)
  2. Buck the Hollywood trends, and trust that my “back-to-basics” approach is guaranteed to help you reach and maintain all of your wellness goals, and attain life long health and happiness in the process.

Gosh, that last option almost sounds a little sexy, don’t you think?!

So press play on the video below, where I’ll walk you through 14 of the best healthy lifestyle habits so that you can become a wellness Wonder Woman from the comfort of your own jammies. 

 

The Best Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Sophisticated Woman (like you and me)

Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you!

  1. Which of these 14 habits are you going to focus on first?
  2. Are you willing to invest in your health by making simple and sustainable changes to your current lifestyle?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

 

With love,

 

P.S. Join The Soulful Self Love Challenge Today (it’s free!): jenniferdenewellness.com/self-love-challenge
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!

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,

home cooking Jennifer Dene Wellness

Empowered women wear aprons: the necessary return of home cooking

Today we’re talking about home cooking and why you need to get on board, for your body, your wallet and the environment . If you commit to only one thing for your health this week, let it be this.

I am so very grateful to my mum for not only setting an incredible example of what it means to be a home cook, but for teaching me how easy and enjoyable it is to put food on the table. I’m also grateful to my Nan, who taught us that we should never serve more than we can eat, and always reuse your leftovers and wash your ziplock bags!

In fact, most of my favorite childhood memories are linked to the family kitchen. Dad’s famous spaghetti bolognese, Nan’s boiled potatoes with dollops of butter, Mum’s spinach and ricotta stuffed pastry, Mandy’s pavlova, Chella’s gratin…So many happy moments have been shared digging into a home cooked meal with people I love.

If it wasn’t for my upbringing I would probably find this whole healthy eating thing to be quite challenging; from an outsiders perspective it can seem rather daunting to know what to eat and how to prepare it. (This is especially true living in Los Angeles where fad-diets reign supreme and the number of ‘superfoods’ in your pantry acts as a status symbol.)

There has never been an easier time to find recipes, watch cooking shows, or learn how to prepare ingredients on YouTube, yet we’re living in an age where people are cooking less than ever before. Part of this may be due to time (we’ll get to that) or not knowing how to cook (we’ll get to that too). However, I can also see that simple home cooking has been elevated to something gourmet, putting pressure on busy women to not only get food on the table, but to make it look like a Martha Stewart centerpiece.

Home cooking shouldn’t be seen as something elitist, expensive or complicated; it should be simple, enjoyable and affordable.

Healthy home cooking also doesn’t mean eating an undressed salad, or a meagre piece of fish with steamed asparagus. Making food from scratch let’s you be in control of the quality and quantity of ingredients that you’re using. This let’s you cut back on sodium, choose the best quality fats and meats, and bulk out the meal with lots of vegetables. It’s more economical, much better for you, and puts things like pizza back on the menu!

A 2015 study from Johns Hopkins University found that people who cook at home (without consciously trying to eat healthier or choose low calorie foods), eat at least 140 fewer calories per day. While that may seem small fry on a single day basis, at the end of the week that’s 980 calories, at the end of the month it’s 3920 calories, and at the end of the year you’d be saving over 47,000 calories — that’s all without ever looking at a calorie-counting app.

(And yes, I did have to use my calculator during the writing of that paragraph. If we want to talk about other traditional habits that are going down the gurgler, my math would be one of them.)

Apart from your waistline, home cooking also saves time, money and food waste. This last point is absolutely huge! Did you know that the biggest source of CO2 emissions on the planet is food waste? And that’s not by the big industry players, but by the everyday person throwing away groceries that they don’t use, or leftover food that they don’t eat. This is really troubling and should make us all feel more responsible for how we treat our food.

So let’s talk about why you’re not cooking more often at home, and I challenge you to give it a go every day for this week.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 1: I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about that. While I don’t have a scientific study to link to, I know how long it takes Nate and I to order food versus cook a meal at home. The latter wins for speed, hands down.

Going through the rigmarole of deciding where to go and what to eat, then ordering, picking it up or waiting for a delivery, unpacking things at home (discarding the packaging waste), reheating if needed…it’s a long process only to realize that it wasn’t even what we felt like.

On the other hand, the following meal takes about 15 minutes and will leave leftovers for lunch if I cook double:

Fill a big saucepan with cold water and some scrubbed, chopped potatoes. Boil the spuds until they’re soft enough to stick a knife into. Just before they finish cooking throw in a good handful of chopped broccoli and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain the lot, put it back in the saucepan (no heat) and add a good bit of butter, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, grill a piece of salmon or some lamb chops under the broiler, for 8 minutes or until done to your liking. Pop it all on a plate and enjoy.

But perhaps you really do believe that you don’t have time. In that case, I recommend downloading your free copy of my video series Take Back Your Time: Practical Lessons In Creating Time Freedom For A Healthy, Happy Life.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 2: It’s Too Expensive

This is one I hear all the time, but it’s just not true. Yes, making those ridiculous smoothie bowls that you see on Instagram would be expensive, but you also wouldn’t make them. It costs Nate and I about $20 to cook a big chicken curry with rice and greens (and yummy leftovers), but when we get Indian takeout we never walk away with change from a $50 note.

This is true even on the low end of the scale. To feed a family of four at McDonald’s (burgers, nuggets, fries and drinks) would cost you almost $28. For that same amount you could serve a whole roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and green vegetables. You’d probably have leftover chicken for lunch sandwiches, and you can even use the carcass to make homemade soup.

Plus there’s the very valid argument of investing in your health. So while these sweet potato brownies may cost more than opening a box from the supermarket, in the long run eating home cooked meals will save you a fortune in medical costs.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 3: I Don’t Know How To Cook

That’s ok, it can feel overwhelming to learn new habits. However, cooking can be very simple and enjoyable. Start where you are and don’t try to be a gourmet chef — in my opinion some of the yummiest meals are the most simple). Buy a basic cookbook and learn one new dish each week; before long you’ll feel really comfortable in the kitchen. Challenge yourself to sticking to recipes that use 6 ingredients or less and you’ll be golden.

So what do you say, are you willing to cook at least one meal at home each day this week? I’ve thrown the gauntlet and would love to hear that you’ve picked it up, so please do leave a comment below.

Remember: healthy living is simple, eating well is not restrictive, and YOU CAN choose to create a body and a life that you love.

 

 

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.