Eat Chocolate, Help Save the World!

I love socially-conscious vendors.  People who are in it for more than just a profit, thank you!  I’m not going to give up my two squares of after-dinner dark chocolate, so I want to support these chocolatiers with a cause!

Rescue Chocolate

Photo courtesy of rescuechocolate.com

Photo courtesy of rescuechocolate.com

With a motto of “the sweetest way to save a life,” Rescue Chocolate (out of Brooklyn, yo!) donates 100% of its net profits to animal rescue groups around the country.

All bars are:

  • Organic & Fairly-traded
  • Vegan
  • Kosher

I haven’t tried these chocolates yet, but their bars called “The Fix,” which is made of 66% cocoa and “Pick Me! Pepper” (mmm… spicy!) are on my list to try next.

Check ‘em out here!

Endangered Species Chocolate

endangered-species-logo

Endangered Species Chocolate (out of Indianapolis, IN) was born out of a desire to make an impact on the growing number of plant and animal species that are disappearing from Earth.

Their darkest chocolate bar boasts an 88% cocoa content (can you handle it?)

Photo courtesy of endangered species chocolate - chocolatebar.com

Photo courtesy of endangered species chocolate – chocolatebar.com

All bars:

  • Use Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Cocoa
  • Non-GMO Verified
  • Gluten-Free
  • Vegan
  • Kosher
  • Fairly-traded

10% of the net profits go to support species conservation & habitat preservation.

Theo Chocolate

Seattle-based Theo is proud to be the first Organic, Fair Trade, Fair for Life certified Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory in North America.

Their chocolates are:

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan
  • Kosher
  • Soy-free
  • Organic & Fairly-traded

In Seattle?  Go visit them!  I’ll bet they give out free samples 🙂  I’m hoping to try their new Congo bars (Pili Pili Chili, please!)

Photo courtesy of theochocolate.com

Photo courtesy of theochocolate.com

$1 from each box sold will benefit Eastern Congo Initiative’s work with farmers, mothers, and families in eastern Congo.

If you know of other socially-conscious chocolatiers, please share them with me below!

Redefining Health & Wellness

So, you have a goal to be healthier, more fit, to lose weight, be happier, and just feel better in general.  What’s next?

Grab a pen & notebook, your iPad, or whatever… It’s time to take notes and start making the vision in your head a reality.  Ready?

Health and wellness is about more than just diet and exercise.  Think about your mental health as well.

  • Are you happy?
  • How much time do you spend doing what you love?
  • Check in with yourself …  do you remember what inspires you?

If you can’t remember or haven’t thought about your passions in years … don’t worry; you are not alone.  Start by asking your self questions and just getting as much information about you as you possibly can.

What do you consider your strengths to be?  What do your friends and coworkers tell you your strengths are?

You are creating a vision, so dream as much as you want to here.

  • What do you want your life to be like in 10 years?
  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • What do you see in this ideal life?
  • What are you doing (working, going to school)?
  • Who are you spending time with (family, friends)?
  • Where are you (are you living in the same place)?
Once you have a vision, it is time to start defining your goals.  Read all about goal setting in my earlier post, Do You Have a Plan?

I want to save you a lot of wasted time and disappointment by sharing this one thing with you. You have GOT to track your progress.  Put your goals down on paper!  The success rate of women who keep track of their goals is leaps and bounds ahead of those who do not. It is a proven fact.

Other tips for success:

  • Share your goals with your friends & loved ones  
  • Hold YOURSELF accountable  
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Sometimes the only difference between success and failure is getting the help you need.  I’d love to work with you on developing your wellness vision.  Between now and the end of this month, I’m offering $100 of my Personalized Wellness Plan service.
Other posts you might like:

Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For You?

Ditch the fake stuff

A few years ago, I was drinking about 4-6 cans of diet soda on a daily basis.  That was after I’d finished my 2-3 cups of fake sweetener-laden coffee in the morning.  I actually thought it was helping keep my weight in check, but the extra pounds only started coming off AFTER I ditched the diet soda & the fake stuff in my coffee.

I totally went cold turkey on the diet soda.  I was away at a spa for the week, and there was none to be found.  I was surprised that I didn’t miss it, and I truly had no desire to start drinking it again once access was restored.

Avoid artificial sweeteners.  They make you crave more sweets!  It took a little longer to stop artificially sweetening my coffee.  It wasn’t until after I read about how fake sweeteners can actually make you crave other sweets MORE that I decided to ditch them all together.  Yep… that’s right… artificial sweeteners can actually increase your desire to eat more cakes, cookies, and candies.  Totally defeats your plan to slim down if you literally can’t keep your hand out of the cookie jar!

Go natural.  I was able to start drinking my coffee with a little milk or half-n-half & no sweetener at all.  Most people I tell this shudder at the thought of coffee without sweetener.  I won’t lie to you.  The first day or two, I did NOT like it!  Around day three, it wasn’t that bad and by the end of the week, I was back to enjoying my coffee just as I had when I use to load it up with sweetener.  If you can’t stand the idea, try natural sweeteners, like agave nectar.  Agave is SUPER sweet, so you only need a little bit.  I’ll also use a little bit of raw sugar from time to time if I’m out meeting someone for tea or coffee.

Sugar vs. the fake stuff.  If you in a position where you have to choose between ordinary refined white sugar & a pink/blue/yellow packet, I say go for the real sugar.  It is a way better choice than choosing something artificial (read chemical-based sweetener)You are looking at about 50 calories per tablespoon of sugar, so go easy!

Check out these posts too:

What’s Past the Comfort Zone?

How To Be Happy

How Do You Know If You Need a Life Coach?

Motivation — Where Are You?

I needed this today!! You Must Believe In Yourself

I’ve missed more than a few posts lately, and I can’t remember the last time I sent out my weekly newsletter that is supposed to go out every Tuesday.

I really *was* busy at first with my house move, then it was a challenge to get our internet service set up.  But that has been resolved since early September.  The truth is, I’ve just been feeling demotivated.

I was set to write an article for my favorite magazine.  I’d been dreaming of writing for them since I first launched my new career as a health coach and health writer.  After a well thought out query to the right editor, my pitch was accepted!  I was really on cloud nine.  As many writers know, magazines often have a 4-6 month lead-time … so I wasn’t surprised when the editor told me that my piece was slated for the March issue & that she would be in touch in August with the formal assignment & a due date in September.

August came, I followed up.  September came, I followed up.  October?  Still followed up, but starting to get the message.  While it is actually par for the course to be ignored by an editor to whom you send a query or pitch, I thought it was incredibly strange to get the cold-shoulder after a response & tentative due date?  I let it totally wreck my confidence (well, that and the many other flat-out “no’s” and cold-shoulders I’ve gotten since August).

I’m not thin-skinned at all.  I actually welcome a rejection letter!  At least I know that my idea was considered & perhaps not right or coming at the right time.

So rather than write about rejection when I myself was feeling de-motivated, I chose silence.  I guess I should also add that I haven’t been getting ANY comments on any of my posts, so I have to wonder if anyone is even reading my blog anymore????

I’m not one who gives up easily, so here I am today trying to keep it real, taking a deep breath, and setting a personal goal to keep writing & keep reaching for my own dreams.      I read an awesome article today by Jeffrey Eugenides (the guy who wrote Middlesex & The Virgin Suicides) called How To Believe in Yourself – Even If You Sometimes Don’t.  In the article, he talks about his journey as a writer & how he has dealt with own fears & anxieties.  It is a great story about he came to realize that inspiration comes from within.  It gave me the motivation to pick up my laptop & compose this post when all I really wanted to do was sleep all day!  Give it a read!

Oh, and if you read this post … please leave me a comment so that I know someone out there is STILL … well … out there!

 

 

 

How To Be Happy

Ah, happiness … why does it elude us sometimes?  We work hard, we’ve done everything we are supposed to do, but that happiness fix seems just out of our grasp.

When I googled “How To Be Happy” before writing this post, there were more than 2.5 billion search results returned.  Seems like we are all on the same quest.

One of Audrey Hepburn’s famous quotes – “The most important thing is to enjoy your life — to be happy — it’s all that matters.”

But how do we do it?  Most of us don’t think of happiness as a kind of good health.  Getting happy and staying happy involves just as much self-care as scheduling regular visits with our doctors, therapists, and personal trainers.

Part of being a good health coach or wellness coach is the ability to dig deep & figure out what is eating away at us that causes us to overeat or have unsatisfying relationships.

People often ask me, “Why Do I Need Wellness Coaching?”  We are all unique individuals, so the solution to health & happiness is unique for each and every one of us.  In fact, I’d bet if MORE people had personalized wellness plans developed for them, they wouldn’t need a therapist AND a personal trainer — they’d be setting and achieving goals that broke through both their physical and mental health barriers.

Here are some things you can start doing immediately to Get Happy:

1. Practice gratitude.

Once a week, think of just one thing you are grateful for and write it down. The more specific you are about why you are grateful, the more successful this is. Remember not compare yourself to others. When you do this, negative thoughts creep in. Focus on YOUR life!

2. Experience life.

You don’t have to go far — just get out of the house!  Sitting on the couch watching TV isn’t getting you anywhere – literally! – and it’s could be making you depressed.  Even if you don’t want to, take a walk and be grateful for the beautiful scenery around you. Or, get up early one morning and go to a place where you can watch the sunrise. It is a beautiful thing to witness, and you have an opportunity to do it every day.

3. Commit to an attitude of gratitude.
Start each day by saying “I am grateful.” My friend has a small bell hanging in one corner of her office at work. Every once in awhile, someone will brush past it as they enter her office, and the bell softly jingles. This is her private reminder to herself to count her blessings. Find something that works for you.

Other articles you may enjoy:

The Science of Gratitude

What Makes You Smile?

5 Things You Can Do to Feel Better Instantly

 

 

How to Make Time for Yourself

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that like me, none of you have had a magical star-aligning moment where you have all of the time, confidence, and support you need to reach your healthy living & fitness goals.

It takes work and dedication in our lives filled with imperfect circumstances!

I’m here to tell you that it *IS* possible to make time for yourself.  I want to see you make some serious effort towards your self-care goals.  To create the time, you may need to say “no” to some obligations, cut down on TV or Facebook time, trade off childcare duties, get up early, or stay up late.

Think you can’t find the time?  Read Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.  It will OPEN YOUR EYES!!!

For inspiration and workouts you can do anywhere, check out my Pinterest boards for lots of great FREE resources.

Once you’ve cleared some space for focusing health & wellness goals, put it on your calendar!  If you don’t take charge of your time, someone else will be GLAD to do it for you.  Don’t give away that power!

Make it happen!

Photo courtesy of dailypositivequotes.com

 

 

What’s Past the Comfort Zone?

I’m not going to lie to you … accomplishing your fitness goals is not always a piece of cake.  In fact, it is HARD WORK!

The last few weeks have been super challenging for me.  In addition to moving to a new home, I started working in the office three days a week.  I quickly saw how easy it was to fall back into my old rut of putting my self-care LAST on the priority list.  As a result, my body has been feeling worn down and I can’t seem to get enough rest.

Luckily, I realized this very quickly and started to correct my lazy behaviors.  I firmly believe in practicing what I preach.  If I’m going to motivate and inspire others to take care of themselves, then I have to do the same.

Thanks to the Sexy September Challenge we’re doing this month, I’m lucky enough to have others inspiring me too!  I had a really good run on Tuesday.  Instead of my usual 3.5 mile loop of the Stanford Dish Trail, I decided to take a different route that added another two miles.  During the run, I felt like I was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t see it anymore!  The good (and awfully painful) thing about this particular trail is that once you start the loop, you HAVE to finish it.  It was hilly and the 6pm sun was a menace, but I felt SO good when I was done.  Its the longest run that I have ever done … maybe ever!

I think you have to push past your comfort zone to see what you are made of.  To truly know that you CAN accomplish your goals, despite all of the hurdles in the way.  This is true in fitness, and in life.  Once you see what you can do, nothing can stop you!

Stay in touch on the Wellness Science Facebook page to be inspired & inspire others for the rest of Sexy September!

I love comments & questions, so keep them coming!

 

 

A Sure Way to Stress Less? Aim for Happiness

Studies show that on average, Americans spend 75-80 percent of their waking time complaining.  When you complain, your body interprets that as a stressful situation & releases adrenaline.

 

Dr. Frederic Luskin, a consultant in Health Promotion at Stanford University, says “Stress is a perception that I do not have what I need to satisfactorily handle my life,” “Stress is wanting what you do not have, and happiness is wanting what you already have.”

Happiness is Wanting What You Already Have| thewellnessscientist.com

Seems simple enough, right?

As I shared in my previous post, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, today’s emotional stressors trigger the same “fight or flight” response that our long ago ancestors used to feel when running away from wild animals that wanted to make them dinner!

When that happens, stress hormones are released causing your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise (among other harmful things).

We need to learn to slow down a little, practice mindfulness, and taking note of what causes us to feel stressed out.

One way to stress less is to make happiness a goal.  Cultivating happiness means nurturing personal relationships, practicing gratitude, helping others, and shooting for your dreams.

Other posts you might like:

Why Boundaries are Important to Your Health

How to Get Your Happy Fix

Being Inspired by the Ordinary

Multitasking vs. Mindfulness: The Science of Stress

 

 

 

 

How to Get Your Happy Fix

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy for me, but also incredibly fun.  There were the three weeks in Asia, then that trip to Vegas, then the 4th of July…

Then, I hit a bit of a slump this week and it started to feel…well…icky.  Some weeks, I relish my alone time to do… whatever I want!  In fact, not too long ago, I wrote The Benefits of Spending Time Alone where I talked about exploring Tokyo.  This week, I realized I needed to come up with something on my own to fuel my happy fix.  So I started to think about things that get me into my flow…that feeling of total engagement where you don’t notice time or anything else.

 

What gets you into your flow may not come to you right away.  Think about something you used to do when you were younger.  For me, I find it is tapping into the creative side of my brain.  For years, I worked in an environment where I used my analytical side almost exclusively.  One of my outlets years ago used to be making wedding and party invitations.  At the end of last year, I discovered Nia, and it reminded me how much I loved to express myself through dance.

Whatever it is for you, don’t be afraid to try it again…maybe in a whole new way.  If it makes you feel connected to something, it will make you feel better.  That’s what fuels your happy fix.

What’s the special thing that puts you into your flow?  Tell me about it below this post.  It may inspire someone else’s happy this week!

You may also want to read:

What Makes You Smile?

5 Things You Can Do To Feel Better Instantly

Did you see this week’s newsletter?  If not, you can read it here.

 

 

The Benefits of Spending Time Alone

If you have been following me on Facebook this week, you will see that I have been exploring the city of Tokyo!

I think back to just a couple of years ago when I couldn’t bear the idea of eating lunch alone in a restaurant.  Now, I’m off all day exploring a foreign city on my own!  I’m not sure what I was afraid of before… Maybe I thought that people were looking at me or judging me?  I’m not sure… but I love the freedom of caring more about what *I* want and what *I* think than a random stranger that I’ll likely never see again.

On Monday, I joined a Nia class with the lovely Black Belt instructor Yuki Maezawa.  The biggest challenge was getting from my home base in central Tokyo to Suginami, which involved switching to a local train at Shibuya.  Shibuya is by far one of the most crowded busiest places that I have ever seen in my life!  It’s like the Times Square of Tokyo.  The crossing outside of the station, known as the Scramble Crossing, is known to be the busiest crossing in the WORLD!

Photo courtesy of theguardian

The Nia class was very enjoyable!  Everyone was very welcoming and spent the first minutes of class introducing themselves to me.  The class was taught in both Japanese and English, but with the familiar moves, it was almost like no words at all were necessary. It was a wonderful start to my week!

On Tuesday, I spent some time exploring an area of Omotesando/Aoyama that I hadn’t seen before.  I set off in search of Cafe Madu, which I’d learned of by reading a wonderful blog called The Expat Wife who has written wonderful reviews of area cafes & restaurants that I have found enormously helpful!  (Expat Wife… if you are reading this, perhaps we could meet for a tea sometime? 🙂  The setting and the food were very nice and afterwards I found two other places that I’d been searching for & unable to find before:  The Aveda Salon & Aveda Pure Cafe (I peeked inside, but since I had just eaten, I added it to my to-do list…) & Nicolai Bergmann, another cafe where I’d like to have an Afternoon Tea/Cake set, which is adjacent to Nicolai’s incredible flower shop.

nicolai bergmann omotesando aoyama flower shop tokyo

nicolai bergmann florist tokyo aoyama omotesando

Yesterday, I decided to head to Ginza – probably one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world – for lunch at the Gucci Cafe.  I’ve passed by this Gucci store several times on previous trips to Tokyo and always wanted to stop here for my afternoon cake set fix 🙂  When I learned that they served lunch, I was off!  The lunch set did not disappoint!  My waiter was super-friendly and spoke excellent English (a huge plus for a struggling tourist).  The food was incredible right down to the last drop of pistachio sauce along side my strawberry tart and fresh vanilla bean ice cream!

Gucci Cafe lunch set afternoon tea dessert cappuccino

All in all, it has been a pretty great week.  A few years ago, I would not have had any of these experiences because I would not have wanted to go off on my own & explore.  Now, I look at it as an adventure!

My words of self-care wisdom for the week?  Don’t let the idea of doing something alone paralyze you.  It can be scary and overwhelming at times, but don’t be afraid to spend a little quality time with yourself.  Life experiences are waiting for you!! 🙂