Sleeping Better, Together in September

“Wake me up when September ends” – Green Day

While the song is about grief, and we don’t desire to hurry this month along, it makes us think about how most of us struggle with getting enough sleep. So, today we are going to get serious about sleeping better, all together, in September.

Kids are back in school, and, for most of us, the summer activities are dwindling down. The sun is setting a bit earlier and now is one of the best times for us to follow the natural rhythm of the season by getting to bed a wee bit earlier.

The problem is, even if we know we should prioritize sleep, there are a couple tricky things that get in the way. Here are some common issues and ideas to help thwart them:

  1. The ‘Gremlin’ or ‘Inner Child’. This one got us good over the past weekend. It was date night and Netflix paraded a German post-war mystery/thriller show in front of us. Why not give it a try? Turns out that it was a series and, as our normal bedtime rolled around, the Inner Child trickster was all ready to protest “but I don’t wanna go to bed! I want to see what happens AND I’m learning/practicing my German AND tomorrow is Sunday so I can sleep in…” on and on, the rationalizations went. Long story short, staying up until 3am not only messed up our sleep but the tired, slow, foggy thinking and lack of motivation to do anything the next day led to more of the same on behavior on Sunday night. Thank goodness we got back on track on Monday. How to solve this: the first step involves awareness that the voice in your head is one of your inner child or gremlin. How will you be able to tell? Well, generally the thoughts you’ll have are about very short-term, false pleasure and how you “deserve” to do, or eat something. There’s a ton of rationalizing and usually done in a way that fools you into thinking the bad choice is a benefit (i.e. “I’m learning German with this show!”). The inner child doesn’t care about tomorrow’s hangover – it’s all about getting the candy, staying up late, partying and playing NOW – without evaluating potential consequences. Whether it’s with sleep, food choice, or something else, evaluate where the gremlin or inner child tends to pop up for you.

2. Rely less on Willpower and more upon Routines. The former you can only do for a certain amount of time until it either becomes a habit or falls apart. Routines can help create easy, automatic behaviors – just like brushing one’s teeth doesn’t require as much will to execute as it is just following part of the morning or evening ritual. When we turn off our devices at 11:30pm and expect good, deep sleep we are skipping the transition time our brains and bodies need to make before going to sleep. By creating an effective bedtime routine, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re moving into restorative, restful sleep time and you’ll likely see an improvement in both quality and quantity of sleep. Stay tuned for our bedtime routine in a future blog.

3. Don’t “Should” yourself – be Realistic. You might have ideals of going to sleep at 9pm and getting up to be a productive, early bird at 5 or 6am; however, it’s important to be realistic about your evening activities and how late they run (this is why our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise didn’t work out so well). If you’ve been a night owl for most of your life, part of it could be genetics or your particular cronotype (and is unlikely to change), or you’re going to need to set up some small improvements first (e.g. going to bed at 12:45am instead of 1am). When you put the kids down for bed, do the hours afterward get stretched out as you enjoy some much-needed alone or self-care time? Don’t give up your me-time; adjust the dial a bit and consider watching one or two episodes of your favorite show instead of four before bed. You don’t have to sleep when your kids do, but if you stay up too late, no one will be happy the next morning.

4. Track your Progress and Celebrate your Wins. Remember how the teacher would give you a gold star for reading a book and after 20 stars you got a reward? We can do the same thing for ourselves by tracking and celebrating our own progress. One of the best tools we use, and share with clients, is our Habit Tracker. With a simple sticker or “x” you can see how many days out of the month you had enough water or sleep, got in some exercise or meditation practice. Consider tracking ONLY sleep for this month, in order to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a simple prompt “in bed before 11pm” is a place to start tracking your success this month. Celebrate as you see the row of stickers or “x” marks build and reflect to see how the habit has served you (e.g. more energy, etc) well. This will help reinforce the change you’re making.

Let’s create a movement to reclaim our rest as we all sleep better, together, in September.

Recipe: ‘Nacho’ Average Nachos

nachoaveragenachos

These nachos don’t follow the bell curve to the top. Oh no, they are at the tail end in the small, exceptional A+ pool. What makes them more amazing than ‘average’ nachos?

They are, perhaps surprisingly, dairy-free. They are also a good source of fiber, thanks to those black beans, AND they utilize cilantro, rather than more salt, to create a tasty and craveable meal. Ready to give it a try?

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Servings: that’s up to you, it fills an entire sheet pan 😀

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

Ingredients

1/2 bag of organic tortilla chips

1 cup black beans, canned

1/2 cup of salsa

1/2 bag of Violife shredded cheddar

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp jalapeño, diced (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tortilla chips on baking pan and top with black beans and non-dairy cheese. Place in oven and bake until heated through and cheese has started to melt, about 6-7 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings of salsa, cilantro and other desired toppings such as diced jalapeño. Enjoy!

Is it Laziness or Rest?

Sometimes we can’t escape it either – the whispers of shame saying, “you’re being so lazy; you haven’t done _x_ in _y_ days.”

In the equation, “x” could be any activity and “y” can be any duration of time. Filled in, this could look like anything from “you haven’t vacuumed in over a week!” or, more recently and very apropos to this article, “you haven’t written a blog in over 20 days” and even “you said you were going to get started with daily yoga like over a month ago” (sometimes the shaming voice sounds like a Valley girl). Whether you call it “gremlin voice,” “inner bully,” or something else entirely, we all have it and oftentimes the negative voice has a loudspeaker and commands our attention, while our “inner best friend” voice gets drowned out.

We teach our clients all about this, and we practice awareness of these two forces ourselves. So, when the inner bully voice recently came booming into our thoughts, accusing us of being super-lazy by not writing a post in our usual time frame, we thought this was the best opportunity to explore the the truth and to let our inner best friend voice weigh in.

The gremlin voice will tell you all sorts of lies and typically either push you to over-compensate, over-perform, over-do anything (and consequently burn out) OR it will paralyze you with why-bother or ‘Eeyore thinking’, overwhelm and perfectionism.

The first step we take is to evaluate whether the accusations are true. In this case, we did an exploration into what “lazy” and “rest” actually mean. Here’s what we came up with:

The definition of lazy is “unwilling to work or use energy.” Laziness can look like staying in one’s bathrobe all day and watching hours of TV. Laziness can have you feeling stuck, mired, and doing lots of passive activities or staying ‘busy’ while ignoring the larger results you want or need to accomplish. This results in feeling like you’re not moving forward in your life (and perhaps even feeling like you’re moving backward). Laziness also drains your energy and can feel like giving up and quitting, avoiding the challenges in work or life. It is not useful to us and is not a characteristic you want to embody. Lastly, laziness also does not not help us produce desired results in our life.

Rest is not laziness; it is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” In a word, it is restorative – and when you’re done resting, you feel energized and revved up to go. Adequate rest can help prevent burnout and will help you move forward in a ‘juicier’ state of being. Rest is useful, necessary, helps you recover from illness and produce desired results in your life. Here’s the rub…HOW you rest, and whether the rest occurs BEFORE or AFTER an important activity, matters.

Not wanting to do something is normal – and is part of the human condition. The feeling can exist; however, the difference is whether we still proceed to do the hard things in our businesses and our lives, or lay around watching Netflix and not produce the results we want in our work and relationships.

One of the best things we’ve done in recent years is calendaring our week with REST first. After that, we schedule the activities to get us the RESULTS we want. We desire to be proficient with our time and work against Parkinson’s Law. The alternative, we’ve found, is that we get distracted with Facebook or social media, only to find that we spent 8 hours on something we could have done in one hour. Keep in mind too – procrastination is the result of perfectionism and produces stress as we make ourselves do something.

Produce or create, then rest. Repeat and harvest the results you want – whether it’s completing marathon training or writing a book.

Examples of rest:

  • finishing a blog post or podcast and then sitting on the couch to watch a favorite show
  • running a few miles and then taking a nap
  • cleaning the house and then soaking in the tub with a good book

What all of these have in common is that there is a sense of accomplishment and feeling of having earned a reward, this rest, after completing a task. The rest activity is enjoyable and restorative.

Contrast this with examples of laziness:

  • avoiding homework by watching YouTube makeup tutorials
  • shopping online instead of cleaning the house in preparation for guests coming over
  • playing video games for hours while your essay for business school is due tomorrow

What these have in common is that the activities aren’t truly a form of rest because there’s the background voice of “you should do your project/homework/cleaning…” and after we’re done with the YouTube videos or online shopping, we quite often don’t feel better or fueled-up for the activity we need to do. We might just act only under time-pressure of now having a few hours to write the essay before it’s due. This is common in people who claim, “I do my best work under pressure”; however, in this case, the end result is feeling worse and drained.

The best way to overcome laziness is to acknowledge that we don’t feel like doing the activity that needs to be done, and doing it anyway.

If we aren’t intentional with our rest, it can become laziness. The place to aim is somewhere in the middle of these two – work hard and rest (and play!) when we need to.

Bottom line: do you feel restored or drained after your version of resting? Do you feel like you’re producing your desired results? These will be your clues as to whether rest or laziness is involved. Commit to resting well – in a way that feels restorative, earned, and in a way that takes care of you.

Client Spotlight: Morgan Metcalf

Early in our work together

“I wanted to tell you that I spoke to a dietitian within my network plan and it was night and day. You are incredibly knowledgeable and professional. You have so much to offer to your clients. You can tell that you are very passionate about what you do : )”

Later in our sessions

“I have confidence in what foods I can eat that are nutritious, feel good for my body, and reduce bloating.

 I feel like I can be totally honest with you and that you believe in me that I can continue to make progress. No matter how many falls I have. I feel like you understand humanness and our imperfectness while still encouraging progress. And that helps me feel confident that I can get back to the place of eating healthy and feeling well.

How have I benefited from our work together? This answer changes on a daily basis because I change from day to day. I think overall acceptance, with the mindset of knowing I can achieve goals when I’m motivated and ready. 

I really enjoyed working with you. You are a kind, knowledgeable, and empathetic person. You really are a good person and someone that I am grateful for having in my life.” – Morgan Metcalf, client


It’s clients like Morgan that reinforce the importance of how we help people transform their lives. A boot-camp-style, intimidating, aggressive energy might help *some* people create change, but we find that the approach that works long-term is one of grace and guidelines, not strict rules or commands.

Through our work together, Morgan’s digestive issues have mostly gone by the wayside, except for when an offending food is ingested. The food sensitivity test showed her a number of rather surprising results and she has implemented the protocol we designed for her unique body.

We are really proud of Morgan and are excited to hear how she does into the future!

Recipe: Easy Breezy Basil Pasta

As many of you have probably heard us say, we love food; however, what we don’t love is spending an hour preparing each meal of the day. Sometimes we just need a lunch or dinner to fit 3 requirements: to be nutritious, delicious, and quick. This meal checks all of the boxes and more – it’s gluten-free and plant-based (vegan even). After the early days of taste-testing gluten-free pastas (mostly with dismal results), we are deeply in love with Banza pasta – it provides about 14 grams of protein per serving, about double that of regular pasta, and is made from chickpeas. *Italian chef’s kiss* You’re welcome in advance 😉

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

Prep time: 15 minutes total

Servings: about 2

Ingredients

1/2 box Banza Cavatappi

1/2 package Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella , chopped or shredded

2 cups tomato sauce

2 tsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

Boil water, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until desired firmness. While waiting, heat chosen tomato sauce on low and add nutritional yeast, dried oregano and rosemary, and garlic powder. Thinly slice fresh basil. Once pasta is done, drain and place on plate with tomato sauce , vegan mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil on top. Easy chickpeas-y meal. Enjoy!

When Food is Foe 😈

It certainly is a frustration and a struggle when you suspect that the food you’ve been eating is somehow contributing to the trouble you’re having with your gut, brain, muscles and joints, or skin.

A short list of common symptoms related to food-induced inflammation can range from heartburn and stomach pain to bloating and diarrhea. It could manifest as headaches or migraines, loss of focus, anxiety and/or depression. The symptoms could show in your achy points or in your skin as rashes or breakouts.

Your Personalized Diet

Everyone needs to eat according to their own needs, preferences, and lifestyle. A diet that works for a celebrity, your best friend, and even your cousin may not be what creates health for YOU.

Truly personalized nutrition doesn’t just take into account your height and weight, age, ancestry, activity level, or food preferences and lifestyle, it also means finding out which foods are causing an inflammatory response in your body.

Gut Permeability aka “Leaky Gut”

Having a “leaky gut” was a condition once unbelieved but is now well-documented in scientific literature. When there’s a compromise or breach of the cells lining the gut, there is a potential for all sorts of maladies, including poor nutrient absorption, food sensitivities, and many symptoms throughout the body.

Inflammation: the Good AND Bad

Just like stress, inflammation isn’t all bad. When you get a cut, the area of the trauma will start to swell and redden as the immune and circulatory system rush to the scene to stop the bleeding, prevent infection, and start laying new skin structures. The problem is when stress, or in this case, inflammation becomes chronic. This situation can ignite a host of disorders including arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and, quite possibly, autism and mental issues.

How do you heal the painful symptoms associated with stepping on a nail? Sure, you could try covering it up, wrapping the area with pillowy gauze and taking aspirin, but you haven’t removed the root cause. So the first step to true, actual healing is to have the nail removed.

How might diet-induced inflammation show up for you? We’re all different so while soybean might cause one person a headache or migraine, for another it could cause joint pain or heartburn. Same with gluten, blueberries, or even green peppers.

Just because a food or diet is labeled as anti-inflammatory doesn’t mean it’s acting that way for you. In fact, surprisingly enough, we’ve had two clients in the past year for whom tumeric, a known anti-inflammatory, was actually INFLAMING them. One of the clients had been taking it everyday (!) in attempts to quell her joint pain.

The Multiple Problems with Elimination Diets

One of the keys in reducing diet-induced inflammation in the body is first identifying the foods that are causing the ‘fire’ in the body. Why not start with an elimination diet to try to improve migraines, autoimmune conditions or gut health? Why not try eliminating the most common allergens (e.g. wheat, gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, corn, and soy) or trying FODMAPs? While a particular food may relate to certain symptoms, it’s not necessarily the best course of action to subject clients to an elimination diet because they are difficult to sustain , are often inconclusive (do you have a mirgraine or heartburn because of the gluten or because you’ve been under stress or because of barometric pressure change in the weather?) and they don’t usually give the full relief clients need and desire.

1. They could miss a genetic component important for you to know and to share with your family. A good example of this would be a person who eliminates gluten from their diet and feels better. Unless they were tested for celiac disease, they wouldn’t know how stringently they might need to follow the gluten-free diet. Their relatives might also be unaware of how their expression of ‘silent celiac’ disease could be infertility, skin rashes, mouth sores, osteoporosis, and even lymphoma. 

2. Extra stress is another problem of elimination diets. They are frustrating and mentally demanding (trying to figure out a symptom’s cause might feel like a scene from A Beautiful Mind or this It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia meme), time-consuming and perhaps most importantly – they are not as successful as testing. The reason for this is that as you eliminate or add in foods, you may not do so slowly or completely enough AND since the immune system is in a heightened state of alert still responding to the foods you haven’t eliminated, you’re likely not going to feel 100% or even 80% better. Instead of spending 6 or more months removing foods from your diet – not feeling sure that you’re even getting better, or not getting a 100% resolution- you may want to consider another process. With our protocol, we guide clients through step-by-step, starting with 10 days of their ‘safe’ foods and then systematically expanding their diet in a way that allows us to determine other food reactions and intolerances.

3. Elimination diets don’t necessarily ‘put out the fire.’ Because our genetics and environment can play a role and impact our abilities to deal with inflammation, you can’t just avoid foods that cause you problems. Our body’s response to stress plays a role too. The great part of knowing your food – and food chemical – sensitivities is that they give a wider, more accurate picture …when it comes to discovering that molds, yeast,  FD&C Blue #2, or benzoic acid are also causing issues, perhaps in your household environment or products. Once we remove the ‘known offenders’ in your diet (including supplements and hygiene products), the immune system starts to calm down and then we can safely start food reintroduction and see more clearly what causes your problematic symptoms. Otherwise, with elimination diets, you’re mainly just guessing about the foods, supplements, and hygiene/household products you’re using and whether or not they are ‘safe’ for you.

Supplements aren’t the Answer

“Can’t I just take extra probiotics, collagen, turmeric, or fiber to help my gut?” You could play the guessing game and potentially waste time and money in trying to find the perfect supplement (or twenty). Here’s the problem: you’ll likely not see a great benefit from them if you’re still eating foods that irritate your gut’s lining and that cause inflammation in the body. As mentioned before, you could be reactive to turmeric and therefore adding that supplement could be your personal kryptonite.  

Want a faster, better way to help your gut AND body heal?

Consider comprehensive food sensitivity testing. Why comprehensive? Because, for example, just looking at IgG levels doesn’t mean that the food is the problem necessarily; IgG can be elevated for a number of reasons. It’s more important to look at multiple markers of inflammation being released by a cell in response to a food – including cytokines, prostaglandins, histamine, leukotrienes, interleukins and more.

If you’re tired of feeling “gross”, being so bloated you look 5 months pregnant, and have stomach pains that distract you from fully participating in the life you want to live, or have other ‘unexplained’ symptoms that could be related to the foods you eat regularly, consider a comprehensive program that includes your test results and implementing the proper protocol with expert guidance and support.

Food sensitivity testing is one of the most powerful tools we have to help clients finally improve life-long symptoms and get back to engaging in life more fully. Interested to see if the testing is a good option for you? Schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call and let’s get your healthy journey started!

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Your Style Story & Top 6 Tips 👗

During quarantine, clothing and style have been a struggle for many of us – with everyone from TV anchors to corporate C-suiters opting either to not wear pants at all or something comfy that isn’t visible on video. As more people are vaccinated, we’re all anxious to get out of the house – and our sweatpants – to be more social. For perhaps the first time in 18 months, we’re wondering what to wear for our re-entrance into society.

The first question is: Why does style matter?

It seems frivolous and like a waste of time to pour through clothes on a shopping rack, online, or even in our own closets. It takes time to curate an outfit to wear, along with shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

Since the pandemic’s start, leggings and stretchy, more forgiving pants have been the pants du jour. Part of the reason for this has been the so-called ‘Quarantine 15’ (or 20, 30lbs) weight gain and part of it has been a desire for comfort during an uncertain and unsettling time. For the first time in perhaps our entire lives, many of us did not need to present ourselves publicly below the waist. Who cares if we wear pajama pants or ‘atheleisure’?

It’s a question to ask yourself: what does style matter to me?

Seeing, feeling, thinking, believing – these are the stages of how we change our style on the outside and our self-image on the inside.” – Stacy London

Our style story

In high school, we remember hearing about how some of our classmates would wake up an extra hour early to either curl or straighten their hair and put on a full face of make-up. It sounded ridiculous to us as waking up before dawn was already early enough and 4:45am sounded downright painful. Plus, homework and sleep took priority over getting dolled up to go to school. Jeans, t-shirts, and some nice tops were all mixed and matched to create a school ‘uniform’ of sorts, but we never really thought much about style – unless we were preparing for a date or a dance. Clothing was mainly functional, met the guidelines of the school, and kept us at a more comfortable temperature. Frankly, we believed that being ‘in fashion’ or ‘stylish’ was something for girly-girls who had too much time (and money) on their hands, and weren’t interested in reading to expand their knowledge or playing sports. In short, our belief was that focus on clothes, purses, and shoes was for the vain and vapid. Not us.

The belief didn’t change much during college. Luckily, we didn’t buy into the trend of wearing pajama pants, crop tops, or yoga pants with sequined words on the rear. It was interesting to see how ‘comfortably’ these students behaved in class when they dressed this way and we wondered how a just-rolled-out-of-bed look might detract from a professor’s positive recommendation. Did we dress well during this time? Somewhat. Again, the main wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, and sweaters but we did have fun with finding bright red pants and pairing them with a striped top, leopard skin pink pants, trying out different bold colors and geometric shapes. That is what one’s 20s are really all about – exploration, creativity, and diverse experiences…and our closet mirrored this. We had outfits for our moods (rebellious, blissful romantic, free-spirited) and for environments ranging from dance clubs and concerts to corporate America. Around this time we also started working with a spa and, when things weren’t busy, the stylists and beauty experts would cajole us into letting them do some color-typing that would indicate if one was a ‘True Summer’ or ‘Bright Winter.’ ...it was an experience akin to Andy’s in The Devil Wears Prada movie. We took it with a grain of salt and mostly stuck with the tried-and-true colors and clothes we had.

A problem realized was overwhelm – an abundance of clothes we collected through different ages, times in life, moods, etc. We didn’t learn about constraint until the mid 2010’s. It was our good luck to have had a couple style-minded friends who relished going through our closet, having us try on clothes, and then giving feedback about fit, hemlines, and colors that didn’t compliment our skin tone (e.g. tomato red). That third-party assessment helped us with the vocabulary to articulate why a certain piece didn’t get much use, even though it looked great on a mannequin.

With our ongoing journey of minimalism as maximalism, we’re not interested in only having and wearing 20 pieces, but relishing a curated wardrobe where everything fits well, looks great, and allows quicker and clearer decisions when it comes to getting ready for the day. To this end, we see having a clear style and curated clothing as a way of promoting efficiency as well as confidence.

What is your style story? How do you think and feel about it in general and when it comes to your personal style now?

Style is somewhat intuitive and somewhat scientific. When you find a great piece that fits you perfectly and has a color that lights up your face, you know what we mean. Most of us are unaware of why we pull the same outfits out over and over again, while leaving behind the green sweater or gray dress. Having a third party observe and point out the poor fit or how the color doesn’t compliment your skin tone can help you weed out the pieces that don’t do you justice.

Style is for YOU. Sure, it reflects to other people aspects of you – such as your personality, maybe that you value designer purses or shoes – and it may attract people to you. But this isn’t about the male gaze or anyone else’s. It’s about how you move about in the world and how you think and feel about yourself. Think about the last time you were dressed up. How did you feel in that outfit that day? Perhaps you felt a strong sense of confidence; how did you show up in your work activities and your interactions with others? More importantly, how did you interact with yourself? Did you wink at yourself in the mirror or have nicer thoughts about your body?

Style can be Fun and Functional. Choose pieces that reflect a bit of your personality – bring in a little bit of glam, French romantic, or maybe choose dramatic geometric shapes in you clothes or jewelry. Part of functionality is sizing. To be comfortable, you may need a larger size or a one that can be tailored to fit your shoulders or waist. Figuring out your style can be fun as well – whether you consult with a beauty or style expert or do your own research through online quizzes or YouTube. One that we like and have done recently is called Kibbe (here’s a video with the ‘test’). In many ways it confirmed what we already knew, but also gave more ideas and inspiration as we go through the closet.

Our style is ultimately a reflection of how we think and how we feel about ourselves. Walking around in a bathrobe for hours on end could result from wanting to extend a nice, spa-like shower experience or it could be a symptom of depression and Eeyore-like “why bother?” thinking. Same with our stretchy pants. What’s behind what you’re wearing? What are you thinking and feeling about yourself right now in this outfit?

Top 6 Tips to Elevate your Style Story

1. Spring -clean your closet. This is a great time to go through your items and release what you don’t like or no longer fits and really curate your favorite clothing items. You’ll feel more confident, comfortable and more clarity as you clear out your space and you’ll have less stress and overwhelm about what to wear.

2. Find 10 of your absolute favorite pieces, place them in a section of your wardrobe.

3. Identify 10 items you know you can let go, don’t do you justice or make you feel guilty.

4. Recruit your 3rd party observer and assessor. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or style expert, another person’s perspective can help give insight about the fit of your clothing or the colors that look best on you.

5. Learn more about your style with the methods discussed above, including Kibbe.

6. Aim to dress just 10% better. We’re all coming out of quarantine together and permanent retirement of our sweatpants or dressing to the 9s is likely too much of a change, too quickly. Instead, focus on the 10% improvement – whether it’s wearing a nicer top, putting on a piece of jewelry or two, or adding a red lip to your outfit.

Hopefully you’ll reflect on your style story and where you want to go, clean out your closet, and discover or refine your personal style in order to feel confident and comfortable going into the coming months.

3 Ways to Regain Life Balance ⚖️

If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, pressed for time, and stressed, join the club! Only a minority of people report feeling peaceful, equanimous, and blissed out these days. The good news is that you can take a step in that direction and reap a bunch of benefits. Here’s how:

1. Identify what’s important to you, your mindset, and what throws you off balance. Once you identify your values and your non-negotiables, you can simplify and cast off the unimportant to-dos. Maybe rainbow-organizing your pantry and linen closets are a “nice to have” but family time is more of a priority right now. In terms of mindset – have you noticed how some people seem relaxed and carefree as they go about their duties while others seem rattled with the same amount of work? Leading a calmer and more peaceful life often has to do with our personal experiences, belief systems, and coping mechanisms…all of which influence our mindset and our thoughts. By changing those, we can change our behaviors and results.

Consider what throws you off-balance. Is it a last-minute request to participate in your child’s extracurricular activity? The pressure you put on yourself every year to balance not just work but with making each holiday or birthday ‘perfect’ for your family? Or does getting inadequate sleep cause you to feel easily rattled the rest of the day? There is a well-established link between our emotional state and our physical one. By adopting a more peaceful mindset, we can avoid chronic diseases and live longer.

2. Know the signs of an imbalanced life and burnout. Symptoms include headache, sleep disorders, anxiety, tense and stiff muscles, and digestive woes. The stress we’re under can contribute to poor immune function, focus and memory. It can also be detrimental to fertility and sex drive and even accelerate the aging process. Noticing these symptoms early in your life can help prevent you form sliding into burnout or into chronic disease states.

3. Add + subtract. We’re going to let our inner nerd out a bit as we reveal how much we loved stoichiometry and balancing equations in high school. Without complex chemistry and math, just imagine playing with weights on a scale – add another stressor to one side and notice how the beam shifts, especially if there aren’t enough restorative activities in the other scale pan. Here are some ideas to find your own balanced equation:

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A Case for Morning Routines

Have a better tomorrow by learning about morning routines then building and implementing your own! (Video version available here in our Go with your Gut free Facebook group).

Benefits of a Morning Routine

1. With a set morning routine, you’re on auto-pilot and the morning flows fairly seamlessly. The alternative is jumping all over the place as you feed the dog, get dressed, check your voicemail, and look for your keys.

2. Peace is a result of a well-planned morning routine; instead of feeling scattered and stressed, you can enjoy your cup of coffee or tea and know that you are ready for the day.

3. Feeling organized about your day – you can see your appointments and activities laid out, and you have a plan to achieve your most important goals, even building in self-care!

Life before a AM Routine

We’re speaking for ourselves here, but you can likely relate.

1. Inconsistent wake (and sleep) times. Sometimes we’d wake at 6am, or 8:45am or 11am…this left us feeling discombobulated and stressed as we struggled to fit in all our appointments and to-do tasks. Even worse, we’d work into the night and then create a self-perpetuating problem of inconsistent waking times.

2. Adrenaline rushes. Running around grabbing work materials, finding the outfit we planned on wearing was in the laundry hamper and having to figure out an alternative, looking for keys or an umbrella…and then hoping and praying traffic to get to meetings on time. Mornings were full of stress and anxiety.

3. Forgetting water and/or lunch. This lead to us either skipping lunch or buying a $13-20 lunch when we had perfectly good food at home. What typically followed was both food waste and money waste (from lost groceries and eating out).

This way of living cost us time, peace, and money. Something needed to change. Tired of the results we were getting, we decided, “No more of this chaos, we’re getting organized with our mornings.”

Our First Attempts at a Morning Routine

We’ve read all these articles about successful people who wake up at 4am or 5am, so we decided to enlist willpower and sign ourselves up for a 6am boxing class (during the snowy/icy winter season). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Why? For one, it didn’t work with our life and sleep schedule. We don’t go to bed at 8pm or 9pm typically and so we were always tired in the mornings. For two, we like food; the problem was fueling ourselves around this class. If we skipped breakfast, we’d typically feel faint during the 1-hour high-intensity workout. If we ate even a small snack 15-30 minutes ahead of time, we felt nauseous.

Reading about the great achievers, such as Richard Branson and Tony Robbins, showed me that some of these morning routines were 2-3 hours long. That was never going to work with our lifestyle so we had to create our own flexible 30 minute AM routine with exercise included. We’ve changed it throughout the years and kept it flexible to support where we are in life. Here’s what it looks like now (we’re big fans of alliteration, as you’ll see):

1. Wash and water – we brush our teeth first thing and then drink 1 cup of water before jumping into exercise…

2. Strength-training and skincare – we’ll play a very short podcast and bust out squats, full push-ups, ab work, bridges, ‘superhumaning’ (laying on the belly and lifting arms and legs), and pull-ups. All done in about 6 minutes! Then we’ll typically wash our face and body and get dressed.

3. Bunnies (pets) and breakfast – we have two (unbonded) bunnies and we’ll let one out as we prep our coffee or tea and breakfast. About halfway through, we switch them out. Typically we’ll also do our ‘mental/spiritual gym’ exercises. For your purposes, insert dog/cat/kid(s) where we have bunnies listed.

4. Launch into life – we go into the office and check the day’s calendar and our most important goals; we set alarms and put the phone on airplane mode (as needed); we’ll also take breaks to do household activities (e.g. laundry) during the day

This is not a *perfect* morning routine. Use this for inspiration to create your own routine. Now that we’ve created a customized morning routine, the only regret we have is not starting earlier in life. High school, college, and post-college could have been SO much easier and not filled with stress and anxiety. Peace is a gift we can give ourselves with a simple morning routine. The key is to make it work for YOU!

So what do you think? Do you already have a morning routine? Is there a way to improve your mornings by putting them on auto-pilot?

Put your Money where your Mouth is

Don’t actually eat money. It’s gross, illegal, and most likely has traces of cocaine.

What we really mean is to take actions in support of your statements of opinion or belief.

There’s a saying, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Our friends are a reflection of who we are or who we want to be. Guess what? The same could be said for food choices and how we spend money.

And, in this case, we invite you to be curious: where do you spend your money and why?

Just as a food diary can help us make many connections, including what we eat and why, a money audit can illuminate the reasons behind why you spend money and areas where the expenditures may or may not be in your best interest.

Take a look at your most recent receipts and credit card statements. Beyond the utilities, gasoline, and other necessary expenditures, what do you see?

Multiple instances of Tim Horton’s/Starbucks/McDonald’s or other restaurant visits?

Gym membership?

Cases of wine?

During this audit, reflect on your purchases. Do they support your purported beliefs? Are you comfortable with what you see?

We all spend money on what we value.

For some, it’s Louis Vuitton handbags or flashy cars. It’s the convenience and instant-gratification of fast food. Maybe it’s paying tuition for an education or for children’s braces.

Look at where your dollars go, for it will show you what you truly value.

No one buys mascara for the coloring and lengthening of their lashes. Mascara represents how we want to feel (beautiful, attractive) and what we want to have (confidence, love).

Look at all your purchases this way. What does the Land Rover, kale, or Diet Coke represent? What does it do for you?

Is it an investment? Is it aligned with your values?

We’ve done our own audit. Curious to see? Here are top expenditures (outside of paying for housing and Uncle Sam, of course):

1. Health – luckily not medical bills; we’re talking about preventative, joyful ways of bringing in delicious and nutritious foods, quality water & supplements, organic skincare, and self-care practices that keep us healthy (e.g. online yoga; pre-COVID massages and acupuncture). Why is this a value? We heartily agree with Emerson, “the first wealth is health.” We’ve been on the other side of health and it’s painful and not pretty.

It’s not just for us. If we’re not healthy, we can’t inspire and lead others to victory. So, this is a priority.

2. Education – there’s a reason we were in college for 10+ years…we love and value learning! As an ‘eternal student’ it’s not just formal education we’ve invested in. Our money flows into books, courses and certifications in everything related to health and nutrition – including herbalism, mindset, life coaching. Once again, our investment in ourselves here pays dividends to our families, community, and clients nationwide! Another core value is to acquire knowledge, wisely distill and teach best practices to our clients.

3. Support – this is a tricky one because of our (recovering) perfectionist mindset. The idea that we *should* DIY in all areas, including growth in personal and professional areas, isn’t really helpful to us anymore (though it did serve a purpose in early days of being a freshly-minted, deeply-in-debt dietitian). The biggest change we’ve made here is not wasting time burning the midnight oil and constantly information-gathering through watching webinars and reading books while being paralyzed, wondering how best to take action. We’ve hired multiple coaches this year for personal and professional development. Why?

Just like our clients, we don’t want to ride the cheap, smelly Struggle Bus for long hours to reach our destination only to arrive irritable, confused, and burnt out. Instead, we’re willing to pay more to fly first-class in order to arrive faster and to have a more luxury experience (seats that convert into beds, food from culinary experts) that leaves us refreshed, clear-headed, and ready for adventure.

Though we’ve consistently had a health coach since 2006, this year we’ve invested in TWO. Why? Because as our business has grown and we serve more clients, from a deeper and higher level, we need to ensure we are also nourishing ourselves with sleep, food, and mindfulness practices so that we keep our ‘glow’ and energy up. These investments in professional experts yield short-term benefits and, continuously compounded, provide long-term advantages.

Anyone looking at our financial statements would be able to tell that these are our top values.

Where did your dollar bills land?

Gently explore your money audit, without judgment. Choose one thing to improve. Tell us: how will YOU put your money where your mouth is?