An Attitude of Grattitude

For a while, I wasn’t really grateful. For anything. A lot of things sucked and it seemed like the more I felt sad or mad or miserable, the worse things got.

From a young enough age, I’ve held on to anger. Anger towards my bio dad who was never present in my life. Anger towards my stepdad who could have been decent, but chose a different path. Anger towards a boyfriend who left me bruised physically and mentally. So much animosity.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “count your blessings.” Would you believe it if I told you the first time I tried I couldn’t think of anything? I had to write down “I’m thankful for sunny days and rainbows because they make me smile.” All good, of course. But I couldn’t think of anything in my actual life to feel thankful for.

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My newest gratitude journal and gratitude “rock.”

Then I picked up a copy of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which talks about gratitude being magic. It was actually one of the first personal development books I’ve ever read. Rhonda believes that saying and truly feeling the words “thank you” can turn your life around, and after practicing regularly, I have to agree. When you take a few minutes each day to write about things you’re grateful for, you can feel the love inside of you. You can feel the energy shift.

Each morning as part of my daily ritual, I write down at least five things I’m grateful for. I do the same each night. The only rule is they have to be detailed and heartfelt. It literally takes less than 10 minutes twice a day.

  • Poor Example: I’m grateful for my mom.
  • Awesome Example: I’m grateful my mom kept me company and helped with directions on the drive to NYC to pick my husband up from the airport. I didn’t feel comfortable going alone, but she made the trip enjoyable. I really appreciate her!
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My nanny and mom – the two greatest women in my life.

I also like to take a minute each night to remember the BEST thing that happened to me during the day so I can fall asleep happy. This is another one of Rhonda’s practices – The Magic Rock (found in her book The Magic), where you hold the rock in your palm while you recall the memory. I actually use a small paperweight with my favorite flower in it (above)!

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My love – I have this picture on my desk at work.

When you start feeling happy and grateful, you’ll attract more good things. That’s the energy you want to have!

Tell me, what are you grateful for?

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

Back to Basics

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

Anyone else sick of being sick and tired? Come on, raise your hands.

This time last year I was wrapping up my first round of Shift Shop, a mind-body workout program that would change the way I thought about exercise. I felt AMAZING afterward and even lost over six pounds and nine inches. That’s huge.

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Last year’s results.

Then, like it always does, life happened. I’m not sure how I lost my groove, but I did. Even though I was working out every day, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’d wake up, struggle through whatever program I was doing, and leave the house in a pretty foul mood.

Let That SHI(F)T Go

Last month I came back from vacation with a renewed sense of self, a greater appreciation for life, and a more positive outlook for the future. I was so tired of being jealous of other people’s accomplishments and progress and was looking for a fresh start.

I decided to turn to my good pal Chris Downing, creator of Shift Shop to help me get my groove back. It’s been the one program that produces consistently amazing results for me – when I stick with it. It challenges me to my absolute limits, but always lets me know that “I can do hard things.”

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I guess I really like these leggings…

For those not familiar with the program, the workouts follow a ramp-up schedule, which means each week they increase by time and intensity. The nutrition plan incorporates the Portion Fix containers ass a guide. A simple formula can help you figure out how many of each container you get per day. My plan is based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, sweetie)

This year I learned one of the most critical nutrition lessons: don’t let someone else dictate your meal plan. Everyone tells you how you “should do” this or “should try” that. It drives me freakin’ nuts. There’s keto and vegan and gluten-free and paleo…and I could be here all day listing all of the different diets and ways of eating.

Every source says they have the secret. They promise you’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days or some other crap to get you to buy a book or a program. Meanwhile, on day two, you’re sitting on your couch eating mint chocolate chip ice cream out of the carton with a spoon. I can’t be the only one.

We overcomplicate everything instead of just taking a little time to see what works for us. Here’s how I found the right plan for me.

First, I had to identify the problem. For me, it was snacking at work. I’m a HUGE snacker (as if you couldn’t have guessed by the name). On the weekends I’m lucky if I even get in two full meals. But during the week? I’m scouting the vending machines for peanut m&ms, kettle chips, and pretzels.

Next, I had to understand why I always wanted to stuff my face. Boredom and stress are huge factors with this one, but so is being nutrient deficient. FYI honey nut cheerios is NOT part of a well-balanced breakfast.

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Shakes are just TOO easy.

Then, I had to build more satisfying meals. I decided to modify the Shift Shop meal plan to create something easier, affordable, and more sustainable.

My Secret Sauce

  • 4 substantial meals, instead of the suggested 6
  • All food eaten between 9 am and 7 pm (most days, anyway)
  • Purple (fruit) and yellow (carb) containers are limited to one per day, eaten before noon
  • Dairy limited as much as possible (some yogurt and cheese okay)

Here’s an example of a menu that keeps me FULL all day:

Meal 1: protein shake w/ veggies & fruit
Meal 2: two hard-boiled eggs, 1/2 sweet potato, cucumber & tomato salad
Meal 3: kale salad w/ tuna, and summer vinaigrette
Meal 4: chicken stir fry

The Power of Habit

It takes 21 days to form a habit, and it helps to have a set routine that you can commit to daily.

Each day I wake up between 5:00 and 5:10 am, shake up my pre-workout, and head downstairs to the gym. Depending on the length of my workout, I’ll have anywhere from 30-60 minutes to spend reading, meditating, or praying, while sipping my pre-workout. Then it’s time to bang out my workout, foam roll, shower, and get ready for the day.

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My daily devotional.

I absolutely love my routine and the quiet of it all. It helps me set good intentions for the day, and it’s something I can repeat daily.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes you just need to take a step back, assess where you are in life, and make some positive and lasting changes. When you arrive at a peaceful and grateful state, everything just feels…better. Of course, life will always have its ups and downs, but we’ll be in a better place to handle challenges. We only get one life, and it’s better when we’re happy.

If you’re interested in trying Shift Shop, click here.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance: Recap

It’s Friday! Seriously, where did the time go this week? I blinked, and it was over. Let’s do a quick recap of the last few weeks.

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Self-Care

I can go on and on about this topic because it’s so important to take care of yourself. Whether you like to color, read, exercise, get crafty, take a bath – or countless other things – take some time out of each day to show yourself a little love.

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish – it makes you a better YOU.

Work

Let’s face it, most of our waking hours are spent at work. There is no such thing as work-life balance. So, if you don’t have a job you’re crazy about – either find a way to get crazy about it or find a way to get out.

Home

Even if you have a stellar job, your home should be a solace – the place you love coming to every day. Many times we get so overwhelmed by chores and *gasp* adult responsibilities. I’m with you on that one. But with little adjustments, we can balance (or even farm out) some of the tasks. Think meal deliveries or a chore chart.

Relationships

All of our relationships are so important – the ones with ourselves, our family, our spouses, and our friends. We need to make time for them, to show them that we care. No one is promised tomorrow.

Zen

The world as we know it is filled with so much stress. It could be bad or good, but it’s still taxing to the body, and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy. It took me a while to find a morning routine that works, but I’ve finally landed on a good mix of prayer and exercise. With a little experimenting, you can find what works for you.

If you have one key takeaway from this balance series, let it be “make time for the people and things that matter.” If you’re interested in reading more, check out each week via the links above.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance: Zen

It took me a long time to come up with a morning practice that works. One that I would stick to even on the weekends. I tried journaling, reading fiction, rolling out of bed and pushing play on a workout right away, and what feels like a million other things to have a more productive start to the day. Nothing felt right.

Then one day I decided to focus on two of the things that really matter to me – prayer and workouts. It might seem a little silly because both of these activities are radically different. You have prayer, which is solemn and quiet, and then you have workouts, which are vibrant and loud, but both help put me in the zen zone and set good intentions for the day ahead.

It goes like this…

During the week I wake up around 5 am, stagger into the kitchen with one eye open, shake up my pre-workout, and head down to the basement (gym) to begin my morning ritual. (On the weekends the practice starts a little later – Oh, how I love my sleep!)

I chose 5 am because at that time, I’m the only one awake in the house and have a full two hours to get ready for the day in complete peace. I love talking to God when it’s quiet and the only sounds are vibrations from the furnace. It’s also nice to get my workout done before work so I don’t have to worry about fitting it in after.

Prayer

After chugging my pre-workout, I settle in with a blanket and whatever prayer or meditation book I’m currently reading. Right now it’s The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, which I’m reading with my nanny. It takes about half an hour for the supplement to kick in and give me the buzz I need to power through my hour-long routines.

Then I have about 30 minutes to read and run through a series of prayers for my family, friends, myself, and the world. When time permits, I’ll throw in a meditation or repeat a mantra while counting my mala beads or breaths. This is usually the most relaxed I’ll be all day, and I love starting the morning so focused.

Workouts

I work out for about an hour six mornings each week – usually skipping Saturdays. I’ll do a mix of cardio and resistance – dance, MMA, strength training – really, whatever floats my boat that day. Lately, I’ve been on a dancing kick. It’s just so fun and energizing in the morning and helps me burn a ton of calories.

It helps to stick with routines that I like, so I’m motivated enough to get up and workout before the sun comes up. In the past, I’ve fallen off because I’ve settled for programs that weren’t a good fit.

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Post-workout I enjoy a nice stretch or foam roll and then get ready for the day.

This practice leaves me refreshed and feeling great. In fact, if I miss my routine, my ENTIRE day goes down the toilet.

Creating your own practice

The world as we know it is filled with stress. It could be bad (current politics, being laid off from a job, or an illness) or good (new baby, buying a house, or starting a new job). Regardless, it’s still taxing to the body and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy.

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I love this book that shows you how to meditate without going overboard.

Have yourself a little zen

Perhaps you like waking up at 9am and eating a big breakfast every morning. Maybe you’re a night owl and need an 11pm practice. Whatever it is, you can work it out. Here’s a 5-Step practice to help you find a zen routine that works.

Step 1: Pick a time that will consistently work for you (morning, noon, or evening)

Step 2: Think of all the things you love or find relaxing. (Listening to classical music, reading, weeding the garden)

Step 3: Put a few things together and keep it SIMPLE (You can listen to music while doing another activity or mesh your love of reading and the outdoors by taking a book outside)

Step 4: Test it out. (Listening to classical music as you garden just before sunset each night OR reading a book while swinging in your hammock at lunchtime OR taking a stroll every morning after you wake)

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 until you find a good fit. (Listening to classical music while taking a stroll at lunchtime)

Whatever you land on, make sure it’s something that makes you happy!

Check out last week’s post and stay tuned next week for our Finding the Balance Wrap Up!

Peace, Love, Zen

DS