Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Exercise Part 3}

Welcome back to "Wellness Wednesday", a midweek look at one aspect of our health and wellness in life. Remember that I'm using the Wheel of Wellness to help visualize health in life:

If you need a little refresher, click here. We are currently in the middle of Life Task 2: Self Direction, and today we will continue to discuss the subtask of Exercise (you can see "part 1" of exercise here, and "part 2" of exercise here).
Last week I outlined some tips for success in developing a plan! These tips can help you be successful in staying healthy not only through the holiday season, but throughout the year as well. 

Today I want to pass along a few websites that are helpful when creating a fitness plan, and establishing a well rounded fitness routine.

Best Body Fitness : Tina has a great balance of health, nutrition, and fitness in her life. Her site includes a number of great fitness routines and reviews of various DVDs. She's an excellent resource!
Mayo Clinic: Fitness training: Elements of a well-rounded routine : This is a great article that breaks down the types of exercise and training needed to be healthy overall. I highly suggest reading it!
Stretching: Focus on Flexibility: This article goes in depth with information on stretching. At the bottom of the article are more links to various stretches, etc...
RealAge - This site has a variety of different programs and health information that is free! They have some great walking videos

Remember that exercise and well rounded fitness isn't JUST about cardio or JUST about strength training. It's about a balance of a number of components. I hope these links are helpful in identifying things you can do in each area of fitness to increase your overall fitness in life!

Now it's your turn:
What are your favorite fitness websites? How do you plan to stay fit during the holidays?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Little Recap and Favorite Past Posts

My posting schedule may be a little lighter this week... or at least lighter content wise. I had a fantastic Thanksgiving (more or less) with family & friends, with a few difficult situations thrown into it. I'm safely back home and have a busy week at work, mixed in with a few other commitments and trying to catch up on the week that I was visiting family. Last December I didn't have many readers yet, as my blog was brand new. Because of that, I wanted to post a few posts from last winter that stand out in my mind, and relate to this holiday season!

Warming Up With A Cup of Tea <- There are some mental health/emotional benefits to tea as well!
I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day <- This is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I didn't love it growing up, but a few years ago I learned the history of the song, and it's really interesting! Make sure to check this one out!
Tips For Surviving The Holidays With Family <- Let's be honest. Sometimes family can almost ruin the holiday season. Here are a few tips to stay healthy and happy while being around your family over the holidays!
My Little Lifesaver <- TOTALLY worth it!
Serenity, Courage, Wisdom
When There's A Winter Storm <- Tips for staying safe in the winter months!

Now it's your turn:
Feel free to share one of your OWN favorite winter posts here! I'd love to see them.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.  ~Robert Caspar Lintner

While Thanksgiving has now passed, the practice of gratitude & thanksgiving doesn't have to pass! With that, here are a few things I'm thankful for at the moment:

  • Safety: Especially with more wintery weather upon us, traveling can lead to many unsafe situations, especially with increased holiday traffic. I drove over 30 hours in less then a week, and I'm so thankful that I stayed safe throughout the entire drive. 
  • Time With Family: I love holidays as they create a forced vacation & natural time to get together with family & friends. I had an awesome time (with some stressful moments thrown in at times). 
  • DELICIOUS food: There's nothing better then wonderful home cooked foods. I enjoy prepping meals with people I care about (not having to cook on my own!) in the kitchen! This last week brought a lot of good conversations, laughter, and sharing of memories while prepping and eating food. 
  • Family Workouts: From group runs, to walks, to stretching and pilates in the house, my family tries to be healthy & active during the holidays. This past week was no exception, and I'm thankful that I don't have to do it alone when I'm visiting my family. 
  • Christmas Flavored Teas: YUM! There are very few words I have to explain how delicious these are. Celestial has 4 holiday teas, and Bigelow also has a few that are delicious as well! There's nothing better to keep you warm in the Christmas Season then some delicious Christmas tea! 
Now it's your turn:
What are you feeling thankful for today? How do you plan to continue a practice of gratitude after the Thanksgiving season?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Songs of Thankfulness

Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet.  Believe in man.  Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place.  There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.  ~Phillips Brooks

All that we behold is full of blessings.  ~William Wordsworth

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.  ~William Arthur Ward

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the United States. For all of you who don't like in the U.S. and/or aren't celebrating the actual holiday of Thanksgiving, a few things: first of all, turkey isn't that good anyways, so you aren't missing much (ok...maybe this is just my opinion!) and secondly, you can still express gratitude today! You can jump on in and join in the fun!

I love the last quote that I posted here about expressing gratitude. I challenge each and every one of you reading this to find a way (or multiple ways) to express your gratitude today. Sing the song of thankfulness to those around you, no matter how big or small it is. 

Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this year:
  • My family- Through thick and thin, we are here and standing together. 
  • The trips I've gotten to take and the new cultures I've experienced
  • My friends- the love, laughter, support, fun, and encouragement I have and get from them is so important and healthy in my life
  • A body that can engage in physical activity
  • MY JOB. I love it. 
  • My clients- I learn so much from them, and appreciate that they are trusting me to come along on their journey
  • My blogger friends- Thanks for all you share on your own blogs, as well as commenting and sharing on mine!
  • The "little" things that aren't so little- fresh water, a way to easily buy and refrigerate food, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, a place to sleep every night, money to pay for my utilities, etc... These are things we take for granted every day, but we really shouldn't... 
  • Access to resources to help me grow as a counselor 
  • The "fun" things in life: high heels, nail polish, fun music, TV shows - all very good:)

Now it's your turn:
What are you feeling thankful for on this day of thanksgiving? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snapshots of Fall

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.  ~Elizabeth Lawrence

I'm trying to keep posts light this week as I know people are busy with preparations for Thanksgiving and spending time with family members (well, at least some of my readers are). I've been busy taking pictures since fall began, but have posted very few of them on the blog. I wanted to take the opportunity to do it this week before the Christmas season begins. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful fall I experienced:

One of my favorite trees every year. This color is brilliant!

I love all the different colors on the trees here!

Beautiful sunset.

The start of fall. Sunrise.

Corn about the be harvested. 

Leaves at sunset. 

Now it's your turn:
What're your favorite things to take pictures of in the fall? Do you prefer seeing the sunrise or the sunset? 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.  
~Theodore Roosevelt

Well, here we are at Thanksgiving week! While I try to regularly practice gratitude and thankfulness in my life, for me this week becomes even more focused on this. My challenge for you this week is to not just focus on what you are thankful for, but turn that into action of some kind. Let your deeds show your gratitude!

On this Thanksgiving week, here are a few of the things that I'm thankful for:

  • A time of year to intentionally focus on gratitude: I wish that we had more than a day to focus on thanks every year, but I'm very glad that we have a holiday that is devoted to it. My hope would be that each of you chooses to take a more active stance in the practice of gratitude this coming year. This will be one of my goals this year as well. 
  • 2 for the price of 1 Holiday Drinks at Starbucks: For the weekend, Starbucks had a 2 for 1 deal that I wish they would continue all season long! I went with a friend, got a venti (I always order a tall), because splitting the cost of a venti is still cheaper then the cost of a tall alone. So, we both got venti peppermint mochas. I drank half of it last night, and saved the rest for today. Not quite as good, but still pretty amazing in my opinion. Yummmm. 
  • The excitement that comes with anticipation: I'm SO excited for both Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas season. I love the celebrations and the time with family! I love holiday foods and the joy and laughter that holiday activities bring with it. Needless to say, despite some nervousness over some extended family issues (eek), I'm REALLY excited for Thanksgiving. 
  • Healthy Living Blogs: There are so many blogs out there that help provide the encouragement and motivation I need, are helping me increase my cooking abilities, and increasing my knowledge about various sorts of fitness. The other counselors I've "met" out there have been a great support through various weekly chats and posts, and I've gained some great ideas from them. 
  • My Ice Packs: I use my ice packs 5-6 days a week to help after any number of fitness activities I engage in throughout the week. I can usually tell when I don't have time to ice, as I'm stiff and achy the next day. I'm thankful that someone created ice in a pre-sealed "bag" to make this process easy and convenient. 
Now it's your turn:
What are you feeling thankful for today? What are you excited for this week?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Introduction to Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.  ~Robert Caspar Lintner

I'm anxiously looking forward to a week with extended family, fun exercise, and healthy eating (and some absolutely delicious desserts)! Because all of us in the United States are busy prepping for Thanksgiving fun, it's easy to miss blog posts. Here's what you might have missed:

Live Your Life
Wellness Wednesday: Setting Up An Exercise Routine
You Don't Understand
Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt <- Perfect for Thanksgiving Week!
Practice of Gratitude & Thankfulness <- As we prepare for Thanksgiving week, can you commit to doing one thing from this list of ideas to help increase the gratitude in life?

I started this post with the above quote because I believe it's SO TRUE. Whether you live in a country that is celebrating Thanksgiving this week or not, we can all still be thankful. We aren't meant to be thankful just one or two days a year. What would life be like if we lived it out of a place of thankfulness and gratitude?

Now it's your turn:
How do you prepare for Thanksgiving Week? What will you commit to doing this week to express your gratitude? 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week
Fall sports! I've spent quite a few hours over the last few weeks cheering on friends & family members in various sports games. It's fun and exciting to be in the midst of a cheering crowd, and a great excuse to be outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather! 

Favorite Quote of the Week
The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical. ~Julius Erving

Favorite Post By Someone Else
The Race In Which I Ran A 20 Minute PR - Melissa ran her best half marathon to date, and her recap of the race is amazing. Her race shows that our mental attitudes and self-talk can affect us deeply.

Favorite Past Post
Tips For Surviving the Holidays with Family Let's face it. The holidays can be incredibly stressful and bring out the worst in people. It shouldn't be that way, but sometimes it is. Here are a few of my tips for surviving your family!

Favorite Search Terms

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Live Your Life!

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. -Steve Jobs

This is a pretty great quote, isn't it? I think it's easy to think we have a limitless amount of time. Even when we realize that we don't have an unlimited about of time, we can often live like we do. We forget that the days we are given are a gift that we have. 

There are things that seem to take away the gift of the time that we have. Sometimes we feel as if physical & mental illness have robbed us of what our time could have been. Sometimes it's a relationship that seems to have robbed us of our time. Sometimes it's something beyond anything that we could control. 

One thing that shouldn't rob us is our own decision to live the life of someone else, and to give over the control and power of our lives to another person. Being healthy in life involves, in part, having healthy boundaries. Remember that having boundaries means that we are responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When we try to live someone else's life, we are not being responsible for our own "stuff" in life. When we live someone else's life, we lose out on the life that we have. We miss out on our own strengths, gifts, talents, and unique abilities. More often then not, we aren't content or happy either. 

Don't waste your time trying to become a different person. Embrace who you are, your gifts, and your talents, and try to make you be the best person you can be! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Exercise Part 2}

Welcome back to "Wellness Wednesday", a midweek look at one aspect of our health and wellness in life. Remember that I'm using the Wheel of Wellness to help visualize health in life:

If you need a little refresher, click here. We are currently in the middle of Life Task 2: Self Direction, and today we will continue to discuss the subtask of Exercise (you can see "part 1" of exercise here).
Last week I outlined the health benefits (both physical and mental) that come about with a regular practice of exercise in life. Today, I'll outline some tips for success in developing a plan!

  • Once you decide what you want to change in life, observe how it is currently playing out! We can't change what we don't know, which is why observing your current behavior is so important. Determine WHY you don't work out. What things are holding you back? 
  • Start setting SMART goals! You can read all about setting goals to create the highest chance of successful behavior change here
  • Don't start too big! Set yourself up by creating a realistic plan. If you don't have the time to exercise 6 days a week, don't create a plan around that! Start with something smaller (like 3 or 4 times a week), so that you experience success. Remember that balance is a key to success! Start slowly to avoid injury. It won't be helpful to go out and run a long distance the first few days and injure yourself so you can't do anything for a few weeks. Start slowly and build up gradually!
  • Add some variety. It gets boring doing the same thing every day, and in the long run, it's better to use muscles in different ways. Add some variety to your plan (i.e. running 2x/week, walking 2x/week, Zumba 1x/week, strength training 2x/week - you get the point!)
  • Find a workout partner: Two times a week I work out with a friend, which keeps me accountable those days. It adds fun and we get to laugh and catch up while working out. This also helps me to stay in the grove of working out the rest of the week!
  • Join a class for fun! There are a lot of fun exercise classes out there (i.e. spinning, Zumba, yoga, pilates, yogalates) that can provide you the opportunity to work out while doing something fun!
  • Continue to track your behavior change during the first weeks: This will help you determine what works well, and what isn't working. Don't waste your time trying to fix something that is won't work. For example, if you keep trying to get up at 5 am to work out, and you aren't successful, maybe it's time to find a new time to work out. Remember that you're trying to create a plan to lead to the highest chance of success!
Are these the only things you can do to create a plan? Absolutely not! These are simply things that I know to be helpful with many types of successful behavior change, as well as things that have been helpful for my own life. I am not a certified trainer, so I'm simply sharing some of my own ideas. It's important to talk to your doctor before beginning a tough fitness regimen. 

Now it's your turn:
What have you found to be helpful in creating your own exercise plan? What hasn't worked for you?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"You don't understand."

We hear the statement frequently, don't we? Maybe we've even said it once or twice (I know I sure have!). I'm wondering if you've ever noticed the effects of these statements, either if you were the one saying them, or if you were the one "receiving" the statement?

Before I go any further, I would like to establish the fact that sometimes the person we are talking to does NOT understand. Sometimes we get very frustrated in communication because both people are on different pages, and one simply cannot understand where the other is coming from in conversation. That does happen. I want to establish that before I more forward:)

So what are the effects of using this type of statement. "You don't understand." Is definitive. Are you 100% certain that they absolutely do NOT understand, or are you just wondering if they understand. Even if you are sure they don't understand, making a statement like that will generally lead the other person to becoming defensive. Through this statement, healthy communication often won't happen. If the other person does, in fact, understand, then they will often discount the rest of what you say, as you are the one that is clearly "out of touch" with the way things are. Generally speaking, the "you don't understand" statements we make are not the healthiest and most clear form of communication that we can use. We want to try to avoid any type of aggressive form of communication!

Instead of using statements like the example above, I'm wondering how things would be different if we used statements like these:

  • "I'm wondering if you understand..."
  • "Could you clarify for me what you think about _______ please? "
  • "I'm wondering if I am misunderstanding the point 
  • I'm trying to understand your point of view. Is this (fill in blank) what you are trying to say?
  • I feel frustrated when I feel like you don't understand what I'm trying to say...
  • I'm wondering what you would say about this (fill in the blank)?
  • Given your perspective on this matter, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this (fill in the blank)? 
These statements are asserting your thoughts or feelings without being aggressive or attacking the individual. "You don't understand" will lead to someone discounting what you say, or can lead to an argument. Assertive statements will allow you to communicate more clearly from your point of you without attacking the individual. 

We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We WILL make mistakes and at times we will attack or be aggressive in our forms of communication. That's inevitable. Sometimes people really won't understand us or what we are experiencing. We can't control how they think. We can only control our own thoughts (healthy boundaries, right?). Striving to be as clear and non-aggressive as possible will generally lead to health and clarity in communication. 

Now it's your turn:
What do you do when you feel like someone isn't understanding what you are saying? (Maybe you walk away & take a break, try writing it out instead of speaking, or something similar?) How do you try to decrease frustrations in communication?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

"Gratitude takes three forms: a feeling in the heart, an expression in words, and a giving in return."
-John Wanamaker

This week I've been filled with all sorts of gratitude as my blog hit 1 year old and Veteran's day was this week. I originally started this weekly "holiday" on my blog because I know the physical & mental benefits of developing a practice of gratitude

Here are a few of the things I'm feeling thankful for right now:

  • Those who are currently serving (or have served) in our military. It takes a lot of courage & sacrifice for those who serve and their families & loved ones. I think I said what I had to say here
  • Pumpkin: Oh, have you missed my incessant pumpkin recipes? If you have, make sure to check them out under the "recipes" tab at the top of the blog. I'm loving adding pumpkin to so many recipes right now, and can't believe that it's taken me so many years to start liking it!
  • Flannel PJ pants: Yes, I've finally pulled mine out for the winter. It seems like every year I forget just how amazing and comfortable these are! In fact, one day this week I walked in the door from work and the first thing I did was put these on! Comfort and warmth in one:)
  • Ice Packs: This is an item I regularly use to ice my knee/foot after workouts. I'm thankful they exist so I don't have to take ice baths! brrrr. 
  • Great Co-workers: There's one co-worker who, in particular, has been incredibly encouraging and giving this week. I love my co-workers, and I'm especially thankful for this one in particular! Co-workers really can make or break a place of employment. 
Now it's your turn:
What are you feeling thankful for today? Have you pulled out your winter clothes yet? 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Honor of Those in the Military...

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die." - G.K. Chesterton

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."
-Elmer Davis

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

While Veteran's Day is past, I wanted to again mention the day on this blog. Those serving in the military (or who have served) have a special place in my heart, and I felt they deserved more then a brief mention. I included a few quotes at the beginning of this post that I think are good to remember. Being a member of the armed forces involves quite a bit of sacrifice and courage, and I am so very appreciative that people are willing to do it. I also remember the families and loved ones of those who serve. From the constant worry or concern, to missing their loved ones for holidays, and having the military member miss out on major life events, it's hard to be close to someone in the military. 

Because those in the military give up so much to keep us all safe, I think it's important to give back to them, no matter how big or small it is. 
A few options:
  • If you see a military member at a restaurant or coffee shop, offer to pay for their food as a thank you! 
  • Many organizations send cards & boxes to military members who are overseas during the holidays. Consider supporting & encouraging them through this means. 
  • Support the spouses & children of military members back at home. 
  • Volunteer at a Counseling or Support Agency such as the VA
Of course, these are only a few of the many ways that you can support those who are sacrificing their life to defend your freedom. Consider giving back!

And to those who serve: THANK YOU! I, and so many others, deeply appreciate all that you give and sacrifice. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt

Are you sick of pumpkin dishes that I've posted yet? I hope not, because I have a few good ones left for you! If you've missed any of the latest "recipes", here they are!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Pumpkin Coffee
Roasted Acorn Squash With Apples and Sausage

If you follow me on twitter or have read my blog for a few months, you know how much I love Greek Yogurt! In fact, on an almost daily basis I get a few random searches from google for a post on greek yogurt! I love it, and eat it every day. SO, as soon as I bought my first can of pumpkin a few weeks ago, I KNEW I had to make some "pumpkin pie" greek yogurt!


  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg (if desired)
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Pumpkin
  • Granola (or other toppings you desire)

All the ingredients in the bowl. Looks healthy, doesn't it? 

Mixed together. Good thing that healthy can be delicious too!

The granola makes it much less "pumpkin pie" like, but it was still good! This held me for a good amount of time, as Greek Yogurt has a good amount of protein in it! Mix in some fruit and some healthy spices, and bam! Perfect breakfast or snack! 

I've whipped up a larger "batch" of this on Sunday night and put in individual containers to eat throughout the week at work. It's delicious!

Now it's your turn!
How do you tailor your breakfasts or snacks to fit the season (or do you think it's crazy to do so? :D)? 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Favorites

Happy 11/11/11! What a fun date:) I'd also like to say Happy Veteran's Day. To all the people who serve our country (and their families and loved ones)- thank you so much for your service and sacrifice. It's not easy to have someone close to you in the military, and it's definitely a big sacrifice for all involved. I don't think we can say it often enough- Thank you! You ARE appreciated!

Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week

Ah, so pretty, isn't it? After halloween I went out and bought a bunch of candy corn on sale for CHEAP. I love it. It's a "pleasure" in life. Notice I didn't say guilty pleasure, because there's nothing I should feel guilty about! it's a pleasure I look forward to in moderation every year, and I've certainly been enjoying a few pieces at work every day!

Favorite Quote of the Week

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are... Let me not
pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. One day I
shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in my pillow, or
stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than
all the world, your return.

-- Mary Jean Iron

Favorite Post By Someone Else
2011 New York City Marathon Recap by Ashley at "A Healthy, Happier Bear" - If you want any sort of motivation on a story of strength and endurance in fighting through a difficult situation, you need to check this post out! I'm so inspired by Ashley's story, and cheered along via her tweets throughout the marathon. This post is well worth your time!

Favorite Past Post
Telling Our Secrets - I wrote this past back in January using a quote from wicked. I think the message of this post is important to remember! Feel free to share "your secret" there too!

Favorite Search Terms
Now it's your turn:
What're some of your "favorites" this week? Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Are you close to someone who has served (or is currently serving) in the military?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Squash & Bean Pita Sandwich

The last few weekends I've been posting fall related and recipes, and decided to continue the trend today. Last week I wasn't feeling well, and needed to throw together a healthy dinner quickly. I had a number of leftovers in my refrigerator, and threw them together on a piece of pita bread. What resulted was SO delicious that I've made it for 2 more meals since then, and knew I needed to share it with you all. Here it is:

Refried Beans
Squash (or sweet potato)
Red Pepper
Red Cayenne Pepper
Pita Bread
Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

1. Heat stove to medium temperature. Put small amount of olive oil (or coconut oil) in frying pan and heat. Place pita bread in pan and cook until lightly brown, then flip and cook other side.
2. Heat the refried beans according to instructions on can and warm up the squash (or sweet potato).
3. Spread refried beans so they completely cover one side of the pita bread.
4. Spread squash (or sweet potato) on top of the pita bread and refried beans
5. Place red pepper and onion on top of other ingredients (can include whatever other fillings you desire).
6. Lightly sprinkle the cayenne pepper on top of the pita for an extra little zing to the meal (and a little extra health too!).
7. Fold pita in half and eat. Yum!

 Pretty much everything about this is healthy and delicious:)

 Looks delicious, doesn't it? 

Oh my! Despite not having much of an appetite, I devoured this and it satisfied my hunger for the rest of the night! Of course you can add whatever you'd like to the pita! This is just what I had available. I've since eaten this for 4 lunches in the last week, and it gets better every time!

Now it's your turn:
Do you often throw random foods together when you're rushed for dinner? What do you think of the entire Penn State situation?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Exercise Part 1}

Welcome back to "Wellness Wednesday", a weekly holiday on my blog that focuses on an aspect of wellness in our lives. Wellness isn't usually the easy or most convenient choice in life, but then again, most things that are good in life are a little more work, aren't they?

Remember that I'm using the Wheel of Wellness to help visualize health in life:

It's been almost a month since I've gone through an aspect of the Wheel of Wellness, so if you need a little refresher, click here. We are currently in the middle of Life Task 2: Self Direction, and today we will be moving on towards the subtask of Exercise.

Myers & Sweeney define the subtask of Exercise the following way:

Leading an active rather than sedentary lifestyle, exercising 20-30 minutes three times a week, stretching regularly.

Myers and Sweeney state the following in regards to exercise: "Regular physical activity, or exercise, is essential in the prevention of disease and enhancement of health and is important for healthy aging. The benefits of exercise for physical and psychological well-being have been clearly established. Exercise increases strength as well as self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, there is a significant correlation between physical fitness and improved emotionality as well as cognitive functioning. Exercise training has been shown to significantly decrease state-trait anxiety scores, decrease mild depression, reduce stress, and beneficially affect a variety of chronic illnesses" (Counseling for wellness, p. 24).

Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't it? Our physical and mental health is so interwoven that changes in one will affect changes in the other. Our ability to manage our stress and avoid physical disease is greatly dependent on our physical health, yet so many people today have chosen to not view this as an important component of their health. Exercise is certainly a difficult and time consuming component of our daily health, but it is also incredibly important as well. It's very difficult to function well in life or have healthy relationships without our physical health. Of course one can also go out of balance the other direction as well, and get too consumed by this. Remember that health in each of these areas is about BALANCE. Remember that exercise isn't ALL OR NOTHING. While it's ideal to get 30 minutes, if you can only squeeze in 15 minutes in a day, it's better then doing nothing!

Now that I've set the ground work for physical health and exercise, the next few weeks will be spent discussing this subtask of health.

Now it's your turn:
What's one of the biggest benefits of exercise in your own life? What's your favorite website to help keep you motivated and on track with exercise in your life? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excellence is a Habit

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

Many times on this blog I've tried to impress on you, my readers, the idea that how we repeatedly think will lead to how we feel and how we act. You're probably sick of me saying that. However, when it comes to trying to become healthy in life, it's very true. This quote by Aristotle certainly points to that truth!

We become that which we repeatedly think and do. That can start to define us very quickly. When we are trying to make healthy decisions or change a behavior in life, it's crucial that we start a pattern of doing that healthy behavior, even if we don't really want to do it. Take trying to gain awareness of Cognitive Distortions, for example. It's a long process to learn the distortions, learn how they inch into your thought patterns, and then challenge and change them. However, to have "excellence" in this area, we must be patient in creating a habit. Habits take awhile to establish and if we give up because it isn't easy or comfortable, then we certainly will miss a point of excellence. 

Behavior change is hard work. It isn't easy. Getting to a healthy place in life takes a lot of active, intentional focus and work. It takes repeating and practicing a new behavior or thought pattern over and over and over again until it becomes more natural in our life. It involves perseverance and not giving up! Excellence certainly isn't easy, but it IS worth it! 

Now it's your turn:
Have you given up on some aspect of behavior change that you may want to re-visit? What is something in which would you like to be "excellent" in your life? What's the next step you can take to make it become a habit? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankfulness Project: 1st Birthday Edition!

Today my little blog turns 1! When I sat down a year ago to write my first post, I had no idea what I wanted to do with this blog. All I knew was that I wanted to share information and little tips with readers for their own mental health. It's been an interesting journey, and as I've continued to be a part of this healthy living community, I've found myself taking more and more healthy steps for myself as well. 
It's completely appropriate that my 1st birthday falls on a Monday, which is when I do my Thankfulness Posts for the week. I'm certainly feeling incredibly thankful today as I hit this first milestone. It seems fitting that my first post was on my idea of the Thankfulness Project...

  • For My Readers: Thank you so much for choosing to take time out of your busy days to read my posts, comment on them, and send me tweets throughout the day! I know that not all my posts are applicable to everyone, so thanks for plowing through and continuing to come back on a regular basis! While I hope you take a little something away from my blog, I too take something from what each of you share, so thank you!
  • For the opportunity to continue to research various mental health topics: This blog continually encourages me to continue reading and finding new resources to not only post here, but also to pass along to my own clients. This blog has definitely helped me refine my way of communicating on a few different topics, and encouraged me to start researching others. Thank you for the challenge of continually bringing new things to you!
  • For my increasing stats on my blog: While stats are not the most important thing to me, I DO appreciate that my number of page views continues to go up each month. In the first 3 days of November this year I had already surpassed my total month of page views from November last year. While I do partly write this blog for myself, I definitely write to try to help others too. I'm glad that my readership continues to grow, and that resources are getting out to more people!
  • The Fact that Mental Health Conversations are ever increasing: The need is SO great, and it's important to get information out as much as possible! I hope that my book reviews, action steps given, and information about various topics are helpful to you in expanding how you think about mental health and mental illness. We all need to be continually working on our mental health to be a healthy individual overall, and I hope that you've found something here helpful in that. 
There are so many posts that I really like in this blog, but I certainly can't go back and list them right now. Under the different tabs on my blog, you will find some of my favorite recipes, wellness information, and some of my favorite posts by topic. Check them out, and let me know what you'd like to see more of! 

Now it's your turn:
What would you like to see next: What topics, information, or reviews might be helpful to you? What do you already like about this blog? Would you like to see anything changed?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why I'm Complaining Just A Little Bit Right Now

In March I wrote a post entitled "Why I'm Not Complaining Right Now." I figured today, given that it's another time change, I should write a follow up post. While in the spring it's unfortunate to lose an hour of sleep, what I gain is getting to drive home and have it light out, and be able to work out on my own outside.
That brings me to today. While in the fall we get an extra hour of sleep, I lose my ability to work out outside after work on my own. The area I live in is not safe enough to be outside by myself at night, so my work out options immediately plummet. The decreased hours of sunlight are also pretty hard on me, and I use a light box to help compensate (but nothing compares to sunlight)! I work in an office that has no windows, so now that it's dark when I leave work, I only really see light on the weekends. It makes for a long winter.

While I enjoy my hour of sleep, I enjoy my months of sunlight even more. This time change leads to a few months of struggle in my life, so now I start implementing my "winter plan" for health. It takes extra hard and intentional work for me to implement my healthy behaviors these next months, but it's certainly not impossible.

Here's a Recap of some of my posts for the week:

*Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal (it's delicious and well worth your time to try!)
*Developing The Practice of Gratitude and Thankfulness (I encourage each of you to try to implement a few of these steps in your life!)
*Wellness Wednesday: {Who I Am Today} (a quick recap of what I've talked about with wellness previously. I'll be picking up my series again this week)

Now it's your turn:
Do you like this time change? What do you like or not like about it? 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Oh how we love pumpkin season.  You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right?  Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin.... We anxiously anticipate it every year.  ~Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer, October 2010

Are any of you sick of the fall recipes I've posted yet? No? Good- I'll keep posting away then:) Today I have a delicious little recipe for you: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal! I'm sure you all know that I'm a fan of oatmeal, and am always looking for fun ways to mix it up a bit. So, while I was grocery shopping and saw a can of pumpkin, I immediately knew what I needed to do! I grabbed a can and some pumpkin pie spice, and came home to get to work on my masterpiece. I don't really measure out specific amounts of each item, so you can make it according to taste!

Water (or milk)
Canned Pumpkin
Brown Sugar
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Dried Cranberries

*Cook Oatmeal according to directions. Portion out pumpkin, about half the amount of oats you used, and mix in to oats while heating over low. Mix in a dash of sugar and spices, to taste. I put in some vanilla, but this certainly isn't "typical pumpkin pie" so it's not needed. I decided to throw on some dried cranberries the second time I made it just for something different!

While oatmeal is typically a filling food, adding pumpkin into it added to how filling it was! This was a healthy breakfast that kept me full for hours. This could also be a great evening snack, if a smaller portion was made! YUM:) 

Now it's your turn:
Do you try to tailor the foods that you make to the season? What's your favorite way to spruce up your oatmeal? 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Tiny Delight Of The Week
I just HAD to choose something fall for this week's tiny delight, so I chose the Pumpkin Spice Coffee I posted last Sunday. I made it every single morning this week, so I think it definitely "wins" as the tiny delight! Drinking it slowly over my first hour at work, I can smell the scent of pumpkin spice and cinnamon, and it brings a smile to my face multiple times at a time of day when I wouldn't naturally be smiling:)

Favorite Quote of the Week
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain" - Maya Angelou

Favorite Post By Someone Else
I'm Not A Gym Member- from Cara at Eat, Pray, Run. Especially going into winter, it's easy to give up on fitness because it's cold or the weather isn't ideal. Maybe we don't have money to pay for the gym (come on- some are REALLY expensive), and that's our excuse to not work out. Check out this link for one tip to staying fit all year round!

Favorite Past Post
A Bad Chapter Within A Very Good Book - this post is based around one of my favorite quotes of all times!

Favorite Search Terms
*click on the search term to be directed to its corresponding post

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Practice of Gratitude and Thankfulness

The very first post I wrote on this blog was entitled "The Thankfulness Project" (check it out here). On Thanksgiving we focus on what we're thankful for, but after the day is over and we're consuming our copious amounts of delicious leftovers, we easily forget to continue living a life of gratitude. The practice of gratitude and daily thankfulness is incredibly healthy for us, both physically and mentally.

I recently stumbled across an article entitled "Boost Your Health With A Dose Of Gratitude". In the article, the author outlined a number of benefits that the practice of thankfulness has on our lives:
  • It helps decrease our stress levels: The article suggests that: "Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress," Because stress accounts for 80-90% of all physical illness, when we choose to actively combat our stress, we help decrease our likelihood to get sick. 
  • Regularly thankful people are more likely to engage in self care behaviors
  • Immune Buster: When we are thankful, we have a more optimistic view on our life. The article suggests that: "Optimism also has a positive health impact on people with compromised health. In separate studies, patients confronting AIDS, as well as those preparing to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism."
In another article on CNN, they outlined a few other benefits of thankfulness: 
University of California at Davis researchers found that practicing gratitude can lower your blood pressure and make you feel less hostile. Grateful people are less angry, less negative and usually look for the cup half full. Studies by Cornell University researchers have shown that those who are thankful appear to have lower risks of developing phobias, alcoholism, even depression. They even have stronger immune systems.

That sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? Are you convinced yet that the practice of thankfulness is beneficial to your life? Obviously it's not enough to realize that we need Thankfulness in life to be healthy. We need to take it one step further and develop a regular practice of gratitude in life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Create a Thankfulness Journal: Keep a notebook on your nightstand and write it in it every morning or evening. Can you think of 5 things every day that you are thankful for? These can be anything "having a bed to sleep in" to "a promotion at work" or "my child didn't wake me up at all last night". When we start to develop this practice, we automatically start looking for things throughout the day to put on our list. This helps us develop mindfulness with gratitude. 
  • Choose 1 day a week to write a quick note or email to someone who you feel thankful for: It doesn't have to be long, but expressing our thanks to someone is healthy. Again, it doesn't have to be something huge. Maybe a co-worker picked up coffee for you on a tough day! Take time to write a few quick sentences to let them know how much you appreciated it!
  • Challenge the Cognitive Distortions in Life: Distorted thinking will change your positive thoughts to negative and irrational thinking. This steals joy and gratitude from our lives. Learn to Challenge and Change your Distorted thoughts
  • Develop a Gratitude Practice at Dinner Each Night: As a family, have each member around the table list one or two things they are thankful for from the day. This will allow each member to hear a number of positive aspects of the day, and will get children in the practice of gratitude from a young age. 
This is what it comes to. If you don't have a practice of gratitude in life, what's the alternative? If you aren't focusing on gratitude and the positive in life, what are you focusing on in life? How does this affect your mood, your relationships, and your overall health?

I challenge you to start a daily practice of gratitude in life. Develop a Thankfulness Project routine in life to help each member in your family increase their overall health and wellness. It's something quick and easy to do that yields great results. Again, what's the alternative?

Now it's your turn:
Do you have a regular practice of gratitude in life? If you do, what steps do you take? If not- what has led to you not practicing this regularly? What is one thing you could commit to this month that will lead to developing a practice of gratitude?