So You Already Blew your Resolution . . . Now What?

92% percent of New Years goals fail by January 15. And maybe you’re a precocious case and have already had your resolution failure.

Now what?

Do you dive into a gallon of ice cream and burn your gym shoes?

Or do you treat yourself with a little grace and move forward?

I hope you choose grace and forward motion.

Slips happen. Ask anyone who has tried to quit smoking or give up sugar or delete their Facebook profile.

I’m going to let you in an a secret. Slips are NORMAL.

And no slip — no matter how bad — can undo all the good work you have done and will do.
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So what if you resolved to go to the gym everyday this year and for whatever reason you didn’t yesterday? Don’t let that stop you from progressing on your ultimate goal (which is to really feel comfortable in your own body).

Transcend the negative and counterproductive black and white thinking. Remember you are human — you have great goals and ideals, but in some instances you miss the mark. Pick yourself up, move forward, and get yourself back on track at the next opportunity possible.

Resolved to avoid dessert, but succumbed to a pumpkin scone from the display case at Starbucks? No biggie. Learn from the slip — what made you slip? Do a little root cause analysis and try to solve the problem. And at your very next meal or snack, get back on track. Don’t throw the whole day, week, month, or year away because you slipped.

It’s not the slip that defines you and your success. It’s what you do AFTER the slip that dictates your success.

Whether you already messed up your resolution or will mess up, go forward in peace. Have some grace, learn from the slip, and get back on track ASAP.

With grace and love,
Skye

A Recipe for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Over the last two weeks, I’ve received dozens of questions about the big holiday on Thursday.

You know. Thanksgiving. The day devoted to family, food, festivities, and football.

For some of us, this sounds like heaven on earth. For others, it can induce some serious stress.

Regardless of the camp you’re in, there are ways to enhance your day to make sure your Thanksgiving is both happy and healthy.

Just follow my five step recipe for Thanksgiving success and you’ll be well on your way!

Step 1: Exercise in the morning

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First things first. Start your Thanksgiving with a sweat. This way you’ll get a shot of stress-relieving and feel-old hormones that will be sure to help you feel fantastic for the rest of the day.

Does this sound too boring to you? Then make it a social event and rally a group to sign up for a Turkey Trot or head to a Thanksgiving themed class. Organize a group hike.

Prefer the solo approach? Hit the gym, walk, bike, jog ... the options are endless.

Just make sure to start your day with a sweat.

Step 2: Have a healthy breakfast

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It can be tempting to fast all day and binge at dinner. However, I NEVER recommend this approach. Why?

If you head into your Thanksgiving meal totally famished, a few things will happen. One, you’ll be a grump. Coupling that with your annoying Uncle could be a recipe for disaster. Two, any alcohol you have will go straight to your head. Which could precipitate awkward conversations about politics with your right or left wing extremist relatives. Three, you are more likely to binge on the first thing you see. Which could be the weird hor d’oeuvres your cousin brought that doesn’t even taste good.

Having a good breakfast doesn’t mean you need to eat a Denny’s grand slam. Instead have a lighter breakfast that will leave you feeling great and that loads you up on nutrients.

Need some inspiration? Try this green smoothie (from this post) or my favorite oatmeal (in this post).

Step 3: Avoid the pre-meal snacks

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Now, this one depends on your personal preferences. If you wait all year for a special artichoke dip or special appetizer, please savor and enjoy each and every bite.

But if you’re just grazing on food mindlessly to kill time until the big meal, skip on the snacks. And if you feel like you must snack on something, have some raw veggies.

Bottomline: Indulge in the foods you love on Thanksgiving and pass on those that aren’t doing it for you.

Step 4: Seriously enjoy your meal.

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I mean this. Thanksgiving comes once a year (unless you’re Canadian-American). So savor and enjoy the holiday.

Appreciate the feast. Breathe in the delicious aromas. Relish in the fluffiness of the mashed potatoes, the complex seasoning on the stuffing, and the heartiness of the gravy. Truly taste the wine and cider.

Consider Thanksgiving a serious holiday for your senses. And enjoy every moment.

Step 5: Lose the guilt

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Really.

There is no reason to feel guilty for enjoying your Thanksgiving meal. If you find yourself feeling guilty for eating your favorite holiday foods, may I offer you a suggestion?

Gently close your eyes and take a few deeps breaths. On your inhalation, breathe in celebration. On your exhalation, breathe out any guilt or anxiety you feel.

Seriously. Give this a try.

And if you need more help on savoring the day and losing the guilt, check out my post here.

Now you have my cooking-free recipe for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

I’m wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and better Thanksgiving.

With gratitude,
Skye

This 3 Minute Exercise Can Make You Eat Less While Still Feeling Satisfied

In my last post, I shared a cooking-free way to make your food more satisfying, tasty, & filling.

What was this technique?

Mindful eating.

Eating mindfully helps you eat less while still feeling satisfied. It also makes your food taste better.

Last week I shared specific ways for you to eat more mindfully.

Another way to mindful eating is to use eating as a meditation of sorts.

So I made a recording especially for you to help you in your mindful eating practice.

All you need is a raisin, a few minutes, and to hit the play button below.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!
 

The Raisin Exercise for Mindful Eating

People who’ve tried this tell me the exercise:

  • increased their enjoyment in eating
  • made eating more satisfying
  • gave them gratitude for the plants, farmers, and preparers of their food

So what are you waiting for? Give it a try! What do you have to lose?

In Health & Happiness,
Skye

5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Make Resolutions that WORK & LAST

Guess how many New Year’s resolutions fail by January 15th?

92 percent! That means almost ALL goals fail within 15 days. Those aren’t the kind of odds I want.

Instead of being discouraged by my statistic, I want you to be encouraged by proven ways to improve resolution achievement.

And I am giving you 5 scientifically proven ways to create resolutions that WORK and LAST.

1. Write your resolutions down.

The mere act of writing a goal down increases your probability of achievement by 50%. Pretty cool that something so simple can work, huh? So sharpen your pencils or fire up your computer and get writing!

A study conducted at Dominican University of California focused on factors that contribute to goal achievement. I've summarized the results in the chart below.

Percentage of Goal Achievement Based on Different Factors

This study showed that writing your goals down increases achievement by 50%.

2.    Set specific resolutions.

Two common resolutions this time of year are exercise more and eat better. But what exactly does that mean? While well intentioned, those goals are vague and difficult to gauge success.

Instead, make your resolutions as SPECIFIC as possible. I’ve provided examples on specific goals in the chart below.


3. Include dates in your goals.

Dates are important KEYS to goal setting.

You need to plan exactly when you will start your goal and any achievement deadlines.

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight. First of all, I would tell you that goal is good, but you need to be more specific. How much weight do you plan to lose? When do you plan to start? When do you need to lose the weight by to consider your goal attained?

A better goal would be: My overall goal is to lose 15 pounds by May 1. To achieve this goal, starting January 1 I will eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and have no more than 1 dessert each week. I will also complete 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and 30 minutes of resistance training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


4. Share your resolutions with supportive people.

Studies show that sharing your goals with a confidant is proven to increase your chances of achievement.

Don't just take my word for it. I've summarized study results proving this below.

Percentage of Goal Achievement Based on Various Factors

This study showed that writing goals and sharing them with a friend can significantly increase achievement rates. Additionally, sending weekly progress reports to a friend can nearly double achivement rates.

I understand it can feel scary and vulnerable to share goals, but I encourage you to try this.

Pick someone you trust and that you feel genuinely wants the best for you. Someone that will help encourage you without judgement or scorn. Someone that will help support and love you. You won't be disappointed with the results!


5. Focus on the process.

Experts agree that what you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become in the process.

So even if you write your goals down and share them with others and you don’t quite meet them, don’t fret.

What you learned and what you did in the process makes a difference!


Now you know 5 easy and scientifically proven ways to create resolutions that really work.

Give my techniques a try and watch your goals turn into realities!

Wishing you a safe and healthy new year,
Skye
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3 Things to Do to With Your Extra Hour to Make You Feel Your Best (+ F R E E Guided Meditation)

Daylight Savings — the one day a year where your wish for more hours in the day comes true — is just around the corner.

While I do not fully understand the rationale for converting to daylight savings time, I fully appreciate the gift of an extra hour.

And as a bonafide hater of time wasting, I’m giving you inspiration on what you can do with your extra time to make you feel your best.


1. Meditate (+ F R E Eguided meditation)

The number one reason folks give me for not meditating? They don’t have time.

Guess what? This weekend you will have a whole 60 minutes extra. And what can you do with 10 of those? Meditate!

You know I am a huge fan of meditation and have previously discussed it’s scientific-basis. If you want to feel more peaceful, relaxed, and centered meditation is for you. Check out this post to learn more.

And to make meditation as simple as possible, this week I’m posting a FREE guided meditation. All you have to do is find a comfortable seat and press play. I’ve got the rest!

I’d love to hear how this works for you, so please drop me a line and let me know.


2. Move

Whatever you enjoy doing — walking, hiking, biking, running, Zumba-ing, yoga-ing — just do it!

Grab a friend or do it by yourself. Just get your blood pumping — it will make you feel (and look) better.

Other benefits include decreased stress, decreased blood pressure, and decreased risk of chronic disease (such as diabetes).


3. Sleep

I’m imaging some fist-pumping from you with this one.

Sleep is an incredibly important determinant of health that is often ignored. Your brain literally needs sleep to perform optimally and to help you feel your best.

I recently attended a training from an expert sleep physician. The bottom line? When it comes to health, sleep is as important (if not MORE) as diet and exercise.

You can expect more sleep info coming your way, but for now take my word for it.


Start your week off right by trying one of these three options. You’re mind and body will thank you.

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Sending you light until next time,

Skye

My 33 Truths About Wellness (And a Special Receipe Treat with Truth #33)

August is a month of celebration in my family. In fact, in a three week span we have six birthdays (including mine). You know what that calls for? Celebration!

I’m a big fan of celebration. Many of us should celebrate more. The small wins, the big wins, and the wins in between.

As part of my celebration, I want to share two precious gifts with you.

The first is a collection of the 33 truths I’ve learned about wellness. Included are my key wellness practices and philosophies.

The second is a special celebration recipe (that is associated with truth #33). I’ll give you a hint . . . perfect and chocolate are both included.

So without further ado, I present:

My 33 Truths About Wellness (And a Special Recipe Treat with Truth #33)

Nourishment

  1. The “calories in/calories out” theory isn’t scientifically sound. This is a common misconception I myth bust with patients. In actuality, our body composition is a result of a much more complicated equilibrium. Our bodies have hormonal responses to what we eat and when we eat it. The facile adage calories in = calories out mindset is not accurate.
  2. There is no one eating slip up that is too bad to overcome. We all make subpar wellness choices at times. The good news is, you can overcome the slip. And you can get started at your very next meal.
  3. Food impacts mood. More and more research supports this truth. When you eat foods that are energizing and nurturing, you feel energized and nurtured. When you eat junk, you feel . . . like junk.
  4. Truly and wholly enjoy what you eat. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so don’t deny yourself.
  5. Food that supports your wellness can taste amazing. You may need to experiment and test some of your preconceived notions to find things you love. Especially if you are someone that thinks they don’t like vegetables (as an entire food group).
  6. Simple foods are often the best. While a fancy schmancy meal with lots of spices and ingredients can be a fun treat, foods that are easily digested often make you feel the best. When you start with excellent ingredients, you can keep the rest simple and it will still taste delicious.
  7. Cooking can be fun AND easy. And isn’t intimidating. You can be the master of your kitchen and create amazing cuisine. And it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Nor do you need lots of kitchen equipment. Just a few staples will do.
  8. If done correctly, your diet can provide that vast majority of nutrients your body needs. Vegetables and fruit, in particular, contain vast quantities of valuable nutrients. In many cases, expensive nutritional supplements are not necessary.
  9. Plants should make up the vast majority of your diet. The only two components of diet that consistently support wellness in clinical trials and studies are vegetables and fruit. Make vegetables and fruit the largest part of your diet.
  10. You are what you eat. And you are what you eat eats. The quality of the food you eat is paramount to your wellness. And if you include animal products in your diet, it is crucial to make sure what you are eating had a balanced diet.
  11. Water should be the first and last thing you drink each day. Hydration is important inside and out. Personally, I start and end each day with a big glass or water.
  12. Drink and enjoy tisanes. Tisane is a fancy word for a beverage infusion. While the English take pride in their teas, the French stake their claim on tisanes. One of my favorite tisanes is mint infused water. Water infused with fresh mint leaves does wonders — it’s refreshing and great for your complexion. I aim for 1 liter of mint water each day.
  13. Drink more water than anything else in a day. Even though I enjoy tisanes, tea, and the occasional matcha, I make sure water is my numero uno hydration staple.
  14. Move your body every single day, multiple times. Some days it means interval training or resistance training. Other days it means soccer, yoga, biking, skiing, and/or long walks.
  15. Resistance training is extremely important. Resistance training is an incredibly important foundation of any activity regimen. Especially for women, who need weight bearing activity to prevent osteoporosis.
  16. Resistance training will not make you bulk up. Unless you want it to. Then you can design programs that bulk you up. But if you shy from resistance training because you think it will make you bulky, fear not. You can train in a way that makes you long and lean.
  17. Flexibility is tres important. Yoga is an excellent way to get flexibility and resistance training.
  18. Nothing can negate the impact of sitting all day. You need to move your body throughout the day, everyday. Maybe this means walking to the store instead of driving. Or setting a timer at your desk to get up and move every 45 minutes. Find ways to infuse movement into your life. Ladies, do not let footwear be a barrier to this! There are many stylish shoe options that still allow you to walk and move. My warm weather favorites include: Josef Seibel flats and Joie, Matt Bernson, and Ugg sandals. Cold weather favorites include: Stuart Weitzman 5050 boots and Isabel Marant booties.
  19. Body composition is infinitely more important than weight. Your scale can only tell you so much. What your body is made of is more important than its mass.
  20. Stress = bad. Stress is the new smoking. Seriously, chronic stress can wreck havoc on your life, body, and appearance. And more likely than not, you are the only one that can control your exposure to sources of stress and/or your reaction to stress.
  21. Mindfulness matters. This often overlooked portion of wellness is HUGE. Your mind and body are intimately intertwined. One cannot be well when the other is ailing.
  22. Meditation is one of the best time investments you can make in your wellness. There is a plethora of scientific evidence to support the practice of meditation. Everything from improved sleep, lower blood pressure, to decreased pain. Just do it. If you need some instruction, check out my guide to meditation.
  23. There is always time to meditate. Studies show as little as 10 minutes a day can have huge beneficial positive effects. Again, just do it. My ebook, The ABCs of Wellness, includes a complimentary guided meditation,
  24. Your health is one of your greatest assets. Honor it, harness it, nurture it. You only have one body so respect and treat it well. With your actions, your thoughts, and your motivations. Everyday.
  25. Guilt is garbage. Unless you truly should feel guilty about something, get over it. If you should be guilty, do something about it. Guilt can be a destructive emotion that keeps you from realizing your full potential.
  26. Being kind is the answer 99% of the time. Kindness conquers a lot. It makes you, and those around you, feel better. It doesn’t cost you, so why not?
  27. Forgive. Forgive others. And yourself. Sounds simple, but this single paradigm shift can be a game changer. Don’t let unforgiveness be a block to living your happiest and healthiest life.
  28. Community is necessary. Your support system is beaucoup important to your overall health and happiness. Studies and personal experience attest to the value of community.
  29. Surround yourself with good people. Someone wise once said you are a reflection of your 5 closest friends. Make sure those people embody the qualities you want. For me? It’s high vibration, kind, compassionate, trustworthy, bright, and loving.
  30. Be the type of person you look in the mirror and like. Not physical appearance, silly! A wise friend gave me this advice during a particularly tumultuous personal time. Look into your eyes and make sure you are being the kind of person you like. And if not, make some changes immediately if not sooner.
  31. Love yourself. Not in a cheesy self-help way. In a real way. Speak to yourself the way you speak to someone you love, with kindness and compassion. Feed yourself the way you would feed someone you love, with nourishing and delicious food. Encourage yourself to be your best self, meet your goals, and take big leaps of faith.
  32. Love is infinite. The amount of love you can give is infinite. So love! Love your significant other, family, friends, co-workers, community, pets, acquaintances, strangers. Everything you give out will come back to you amplified.
  33. The pie is not finite. Another wise friend summed this up for me. The universe has more than enough for everyone to have what they need and more. There is enough for us all to succeed. And we should help and support others to reach their goals and achieve their dreams. A rising tide raises all boats.

In the spirit of Wellness Truth #33, I am delighted to share my what my husband calls Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie. Unfortunately, unlike Tip #33, this pie is finite.

Peanut butter + dark chocolate = deliciousness. Enough said!

This no-bake, sugar-free, gluten-free pie is a decadent dessert that will make your taste buds come alive while keeping your belly happy.

PERFECT PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE PIE (sf, gf, df, vegan)

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust
2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, gluten-free
2/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup walnuts
4 dates, pitted

For the Filling
1 1/4 cups almond or hemp milk
4 Tbsp natural peanut butter
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp cocoa powder (my favorites are this Fair Trade version and this raw version)
16 dates, pitted

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Crust

  1. Combine oats, coconut, and walnuts into a high powered blender or food processor. Blend or process until walnuts begin to release oil.

  2. Add dates and pulse until combined.

  3. Transfer contents into a pie dish. Use hands or parchment paper to press contents into a crust on the bottom of the dish.

 In process -- the crust is made and the filing transferred.

In process -- the crust is made and the filing transferred.

For the Filling

  1. Combine all filling ingredients into a high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth. On my Vitamix, I run the ice cream preset and then the smoothie setting. If necessary, add more almond or hemp milk. The consistency should be like pudding.

  2. Transfer contents into pie dish with crust. Spread with a spatula until evenly distributed and smooth on the top.

  3. Cover and chill for an hour or two (if you can wait that long).

 The final product -- Perfect Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

The final product -- Perfect Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Did I miss one of your top wellness truths? Share in the comments section below!

If you make Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie, take a picture and tag @a.betterway.wellness on Instagram. I'd love to see!

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The Number One Tip Fit Women Follow

I had an entirely different post planned for today.

And then something pulled at my heart so strongly I knew I had to share with you.

Yesterday Krista Gray from Brit + Co published an article titled “15 Rules Fit Women Always Follow.”

Krista interviewed a group of incredibly bright, healthy, and inspirational women (including Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser and Jillian Lorenze, co-founder of The Barre Code). Little ol’ me was lucky enough to have her wellness ideas in the article. Not only was I included, but my tip is listed as number one.

The other tips in the article are great and I encourage you give it a read through (I especially love tip #14 from athlete Michelle Parker). But I believe my tip was top of the list because it looked beyond what we typically think of as fitness.

My tip was to focus on wellness first — not on appearances.

Which either seems super obvious or never crossed your mind.

For years the concept never crossed my mind. I focused on the wrong aspects of health. My goal was to look a certain way or to reach a certain weight. How I felt was inconsequential.

I deprived myself of eating foods I truly loved. I equated sacrifice with success. And deprivation with dutifulness.

I viewed exercise as an unavoidable chore. It was something I had to check off my list before getting to the next task. I would feel ridden with guilt if I missed a session and a little smug when I went to the gym more times than planned.

And despite my greatest efforts to control my diet and exercise consistently, my health wasn’t improving.

My mind and body were stressed out. And whose wouldn’t be, really? I was obsessed with ever-changing goals and at times unrealistic expectations.

And then a gradual shift occurred. My focus turned to self-care and self-love. I stopped wondering what I could do to lose a few pounds or to fit into my skinny jeans. Instead I started asking what could I do to support my body? My goals? My dreams?

I wanted to feel my best so I could be my best. The version of myself that was kind, attentive, energetic, and present. The version of myself that could give to and help others.

So instead of eating processed low-calorie food that left me hungry and without pizzazz, I started eating food that tasted delicious and left me energized and happy on the inside and out. Instead of drinking things I didn’t enjoy, I chose beverages that hydrated and nourished me.

Instead of exercising for the sake of exercising, I moved my body in ways that were challenging, fun, and left me feeling happy and healthy.

I filled my mind and leisure time with influences and activities that would make me feel more like the best version of myself.

And as a result, now I eat better. My food looks better, tastes better, and makes me feel better. I exercise because I want my body to be strong and healthy. My hobbies and work fill my cup instead of emptying it.

The beauty of this is that it’s completely sustainable. Because each decision I make is for my wellness —for my best interest. It’s not a sacrifice to turn down food that makes me feel bloated and cranky. It’s a gift to myself. It’s not a chore to exercise. It’s a way to honor and support my body. It’s not a waste of time to read an uplifting book. It’s enrichment for my mind and spirit.

Is every day perfect? Absolutely not! There are times when I make choices that don’t make me feel the best I can be. But I don’t torture myself about it. I learn from the experience and vow to treat myself better next time.

When your motivation is your personal wellness and overall health, you make better decisions instinctively.

It’s not a diet, or a fast, or an exercise binge. You don’t need to stress or obsess about going out for a meal or traveling.

You just make daily decisions to be and feel your best. And this change is real. Better. It is the true, effective, and sustainable path to lasting wellness.

Maybe you already do this instinctively. I commend you and encourage you to keep it up. But if your wellness is not your priority for fitness, consider a different way. Consider a way that puts the emphasis on feeling healthy and good in your body. Consider a way that encourages you to treat yourself with kindness and grace. Consider a better way.

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How to Mediate Guide (+ What Meditation Is & Why You Should Do It)

What if I told you there was a scientifically proven way to feel less stress? A way that made your anxiety dissipate. A way that could lower your blood pressure and decrease pain. A way that could ameliorate headaches and improve your sleep quality.

What if I told you this solution could benefit almost every single person in the world? That this solution was not a drug and not a sham.

Now what if I told you this solution was free?

My guess is you would be interested in learning more.

So what is this incredible solution?

Meditation. And this post will give you the foundation to start your own meditation practice.

What Meditation Is

What is meditation? Meditation is a practice that relaxes the physical and mental state by freeing the mind.

The word meditation may conjure different images in your mind — maybe a Buddhist monk or a hippy or something else entirely. This is because there are many different types of meditation. Types of meditation include:

  •     Chi
  •     Concentrative
  •     Kundalini
  •     Mindfulness
  •     Mantra
  •     Transcendental (very popular right now)
  •     Zen
  •     More!

These different types of meditation are practiced in varying ways.

What the different forms of meditation have in common is the resting of the mind to attain an improved state of consciousness.

With my patients I find there is much confusion surrounding meditation. So here is a quick rundown of what meditation is and what it is not

What meditation is:

  •     Resting of the mind
  •     A way to attain a special state of consciousness
  •     Something that can be done independently or with others
  •     Scientifically proven to have many health benefits

What meditation is NOT:

  •     A religion
  •     Something only hippies or monks do
  •     Expensive
  •     Difficult to learn

How Meditation Promotes Wellness

The evidence surrounding meditation is robust. In fact, there is more compelling data to support meditation than there is for many drugs on the market. For those of you who love to know the evidence, the following is an overview of the peer-reviewed scientific evidence for meditation.

  • Meditation for 8 consecutive weeks significantly reduces blood pressure and heart rate in patients with high blood pressure.
  • Meditation for 8 consecutive weeks significantly reduces feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Meditation further reduces anxiety in patients already using anxiety medication
  • Meditation for 8 consecutive weeks can decrease the perception of back pain.
  • Meditation for 8 weeks can improve subjective quality of life in adults and older adults.
  • Meditation for 4 weeks can significantly decrease blood sugar in patients with diabetes (decreases hemoglobin A1c by 0.5%).
  • Meditation may improve cognition and aging.
  • Meditation for 1.5 hours each week can significantly improve perceived stress levels.

If you are an evidence-based medicine lover, feel welcome to contact me for links to the original research articles that support the listed benefits.

How to Meditate: A Simple Way

Now that you know what meditation is and what it can do you for, I will share simple instructions on one way to meditate. Beginners generally find basic or guided meditation to be easiest. Below you will find instructions on basic meditation.

STEP 1: Settle yourself into a comfortable meditative posture.

You may think you have to be seated on the floor in full lotus position to meditate. This is not true. If sitting in full lotus on a hardwood floor is comfortable for you, excellent. If not, there are many different options.

The best posture for meditation in one that is comfortable and allows your head, neck, and torso to be straight while you are seated. This may mean sitting crossed legged on the floor, on a cushion or pillow, or even on a block. Or it may mean you are seated in a comfortable chair. Whichever way you can sit comfortably whilst keeping your head, neck, and torso aligned is perfect.

My personal preferred meditation posture is sitting on a mat in half lotus position. If my hips are feeling tight, I will add a cushion or block under my seat.

STEP 2: Close your eyes gently.

There is no need to squeeze your eyes shut. Just gently lower your lids into a comfortable position.

STEP 3: Bring awareness to your body.

Take a few moments to notice how your body feels. Perhaps you become aware of the strength of your core or the tension in your neck. Just notice without judgment.

STEP 4: Bring awareness to your breath.

Notice the depth and quality of your breathing. Breathe using your diaphragm (not just your upper chest). Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply.

Continue this for 10 minutes. You may find setting a timer is helpful when you are new to meditation.

Notes:

Don’t stress if your mind wanders, especially when you are new to meditation. This is common. When thoughts bubble into your consciousness, try to observe them without reaction or judgement. Or mentally invite them to rest until a later time.

If you have severe asthma or other pulmonary disorders, consider physician advice before starting a new meditation practice. Do not meditate while driving or operating heavy machinery.

When to Expect Results from Meditation

Some meditators experience positive results immediately. Others notice benefits gradually — a few weeks pass and they realize they do not react as strongly to irritations, their anxiety level is lower, or they feel more peaceful. While you may not immediately notice results, understand positive changes are occurring in your mind and body. Persist with your meditation practice and you will experience transformative results.

My Personal Meditation Practice

Meditation has been a truly transformative practice in my life. I flirted with meditation about seven years ago. For several years I had an on-again off-again relationship with meditation. I appreciated the immediate benefits, but did not experience tangible lasting results.

About two years ago I truly devoted myself to meditation practice. I was in a particularly stressful period of life. Lots of change (two cross country moves, deaths in the family, and new jobs, to name a few) had left me feeling fatigued, irritable, and frankly looking less than well.

Because of my evidence-based quest for wellness (read more about that here), I knew the strong data support for meditation. I even recommended meditation to my patients. So I decided to truly practice what I preached and made a pledge to meditate for twenty minutes for an entire month.

My instant gratification came in the form of immediate calm and relaxation after a meditation session. Then later I actually noticed myself getting frustrated and irritated (obviously not the desired effect). I noticed myself tensing in certain situations and being irritable. This was confusing and seemed entirely counter-intuitive. I wondered if I was doing something wrong.

Then my husband and other loved ones commented that I seemed more relaxed. Calmer. Happier, really. And then I realized that even though I was noticing myself tensing more, I was actually reacting less. Basically, before meditation I would tense and feel anxious or irritable without even recognizing it. Now I recognized it and was able to choose my reactions. This phase lasted for a few months and then dissipated. Eventually, I stopped noticing myself tensing because my mind and body had actually stopped tensing. I was progressing.

Before meditation I didn’t have the awareness to recognize my stress and anxiety. Once I started meditation, I became more aware of my stress reactions (and falsely assumed I was tensing and stressing more). With consistent meditation, my stress reactions decreased significantly in a noticeable way for myself and those around me.

I share my personal experience in case yours is similar. If you start a meditation practice and feel like you may be reacting more to your circumstances, do not fret. You are likely noticing your reactions more. This means you are progressing in a positive way. Persist with your practice and you will experience the transformative effects of meditation.

Your Turn: From Knowledge to Action

You understand what meditation is, why it can help you, and how to start. Now that you have a solid meditation foundation, what will you do? I challenge you to start a meditation practice today. Make a commitment to yourself and get meditating. It’s a small investment of 10 minutes (or less) a day with a huge return on investment.

So there you have it. A how to meditate guide.

What are your tips and experience with meditation? I would love to hear!

Sending you light until next time.

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A Better Way to a Healthy Glow from the Inside Out + Glow Getter Smoothie Recipe

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting my friend (who is a talented esthetician). Our conversations always veer toward wellness and she told me the question most of her clients ask is, “How do I get my skin to glow?”

I was amazed because many of my patients and friends ask me the SAME thing.

Even though her work focuses on esthetics and my work focuses on wellness, we both had the same answer. A healthy glow starts from the INSIDE.

The reality is glowing skin is a sign of wellness. Of good health. And to get it, you need to invest in your wellness and health.

So here are four tips to glow, from the inside to the outside. Be sure to check out Tip 4, which includes my Glow Getter smoothie recipe. And my bonus tip includes my favorite products to help you glow from the outside.

1. Sweat. Every day.

A major component to glowing skin is circulation. Increasing blood flow nourishes skin cells and carries away waste products. It’s like cleaning your skin from the inside out.

The best way to increase your circulation is to sweat. Move your body. Run, walk, bike, hike. You can go to a class or do yoga. Do whatever it is you enjoy that makes you break a sweat.

Another great way to amp up your circulation is by using a sauna. Dry, wet, hot, or infrared. Any will do for this purpose. Plus saunas decrease stress (see Tip 3).

2. Sleep well.

You may be thinking, “Duh. Tell me something I don’t know.”

Except take a moment to evaluate your sleep. How much are you sleeping? What is the quality of your sleep? How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?

If you answered not enough, poor, or tired, you are not sleeping well.

Why does sleep matter? Collagen and hyaluronic acid are two natural skin glowing compounds in your body. Too little quality sleep leads to inflammation, which diminishes your natural collagen and hyaluronic acid.

If you are not sleeping well, try to get better sleep starting tonight. This could be as simple as forgoing your evening Netflix and going to bed an hour earlier. Or doing a bedtime meditation to help you better ease into restful sleep.

3. Stress less.

NEWS FLASH: How you feel inside impacts how you look outside.

In fact, there is an emerging field called psychodermatology that addresses the impact of emotions (including stress) as it relates to the skin.

When you experience stress, your body responds by releasing stress hormones (like cortisol). Cortisol negatively impacts circulation to the skin. And remember from Tip 1, we need circulation to nourish our skin cells and remove waste products.

How do you decrease stress? You either minimize the source of your stress or you minimize your RESPONSE to the stress.

Start with minimizing the source of your stress. Once you’ve minimized the source (or realized you cannot), try to improve your response to stress.

Scientifically proved methods to decrease your stress response include:

  • Exercise (are you seeing a theme here?)
  • Meditation
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Laughing


4. Support your body with nourishing and glow enhancing foods.

What you nourish your body with plays a crucial role in glowing from the inside out. Foods that make you retain fluid make you dull inside and out (think overly salted and processed foods). Foods full of natural color and nutrients will make you glow (think fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes).

Top glow enhancing foods include:

  • Berries (lots of antioxidants and nutrients)
  • Dark, leafy, greens (antioxidants, vitamin K, and iron)
  • Carrots (vitamins A and C)
  • Walnuts (vitamin B)
  • Pomegranates (antioxidants)

Because I want you to glow from the inside out, I am sharing my Glow Getter Smoothie recipe. It includes ALL of the top glow enhancing foods and is perfect for breakfast or a snack. Plus, it’s super easy to make.

Glow Getter Smoothie (gf, sf, vegan)

Serves 2
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 Golden Delicious apples, cored and sliced
1 banana
1/2 cup carrot juice
1/2 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup raw walnuts, shelled
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 cup ice

Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender. Blend for at least 60 seconds, perhaps longer depending on your blender. Add water if needed to reach desired consistency.

 

BONUS TIP: Self care to enhance your natural glow.

Once you get your glow from the inside (sweat, sleep, stress less, and supportive foods), you can enhance your glow with some tricks from the outside.

My favorite product for skin hydration is squalane oil (derived from olives). It is natural, simple, inexpensive, and feels heavenly on your skin. A true hydrator that leaves your skin immediately glowing (and not in a gross way). My favorite is from Indie Lee and I use it every day. I was first introduced to this gem from the lovely gals at Credo in San Francisco. 

A little strategically applied highlighter can also help enhance your glow. Be sure to use a natural highlighter that will support your health. So many highlighters being sold are full of harmful ingredients that can leave your skin congested and inflamed.

My absolute favorite highlighter is from Danish makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis. Her highlighter (aptly named Radiance) is made from natural and skin soothing ingredients. A little popped on your cheek and brow bones leaves you with the perfect glow. I always stock up on Kjaer Weis from Citrine Natural Beauty Bar.

So there you have it. A better way to glow from the inside and out.

What are your tips to glowing from the inside out? Feel welcome to share in the comments section.

Sending you light until next time.

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Traveling Well Part II: 5 Ways to Feel Amazing Once You've Reached Your Destination

I have a confession. I used to feel anxious about traveling. Don’t get me wrong; I adore experiencing different cultures and making new friends.

What made me anxious was feeling like travel derailed my wellness progress. Like it set me backward, upset my belly, caused me to breakout, and made me gain a few unwanted pounds. Travel left me with mixed emotions — excitement for new adventures and remorse for feeling “unhealthy.”

After incorporating all I’ve learned about wellness into my life, I no longer feel apprehension about travel. I love it. Because I’ve found a better way to travel. A way that reinforces my wellness, keeps my belly happy, calms my body, and leaves me lighter and brighter.

Today is part II of Traveling Well (check out Part I here) and I’m sharing my secrets to feel fantastic once you’ve reached your travel destination.

1. Be a Breakfast Genius.

This means being smart about what you choose to nourish yourself with. Breakfast sets your tone for the day. If you have a greasy and heavy breakfast, you’re going to feel greasy and heavy the rest of the day. If you eat something supportive and energizing, you will feel supported and energized throughout the day.

WARNING: to be a breakfast genius you need to be prepared. Know what makes you feel great in the morning, and find a way to make sure you get it. This requires preplanning.

Green smoothies, to me, are the greatest breakfast — nutrient dense, easily digested, and filling. How do I make sure I get green smoothies when I travel? If traveling by car and I have access to a refrigerator, I pack a few homemade smoothies stored in Mason jars for the trip. If not, I google “smoothies” and my destination. Most times, I can find somewhere within walking distance that serves smoothies.

If you can’t find a smoothie joint or are already committed to other eating establishments, you can get creative. Most restaurants have whole grain toast (and often gluten free) and avocados. Ask for whole grain toast with avocado! It’s delicious, nutritious, and satisfying.

2. Green Up.

Back in my dark ages, I used to just order an entree (sans salad) when eating out during travel. I used to think a salad wouldn’t fill me up and felt guilty spending an extra few bucks on greens. I’ve since learned my lesson.

Eating vegetables makes you feel better. They are full of vitamins and minerals that energize you and fiber that fills you up and helps keep your digestive system regular. They are a travel win-win.

Try ordering fresh vegetables with every meal. Or better yet, replace one of your meals with a larger salad. Trust me, your belly with thank you. It’s like suiting up, but with vegetables.

3. Move It.

As mentioned in last week’s bonus, moving your body and exercising will make you feel better. Period. So find a way to do it wherever you are.

This may mean packing special shoes and clothes or borrowing them. Some hotels make this easy by allowing you to borrow exercise clothes and shoes. Westin hotels partnered with New Balance and for $5 you can have clothes and shoes delivered to your room in 15 minutes or less.

Do whatever movement suits you best. If you like gyms, find one to use. Are classes your thing? You can easily find a studio and buy a single class pass (try the Zenrez app for last minute class deals in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and the Bay Area). Personally, I like to walk, bike, and run when I travel. I find it an excellent way to see the sights and often find some great hole in the wall places to check out in the process.

4. Be Mindful.

My mindfulness practice comes with me wherever I go. Just because I’m away from home does not mean I forgo one of my wellness foundations: meditation. The beauty of meditation is you can practically do it anywhere.

On a plane, train, or automobile (just not while you are actually driving). In a tent, hotel room, or airbnb. On the beach, mountain top, or valley. It doesn’t matter.

Wherever and whenever, you can seat yourself comfortably, close your eyes, and breathe.

5. Dress for Success.

This means traveling with clothing that makes you feel your best. Clothes that are comfortable, but don’t limit your activities.

This means different things for different people. For me this usually means:

  • Packing pajamas I love. Ones that are soft, warm, but still cute.
  • Bringing one pair of athletic shoes that I can walk, run, or bike in. My favorites right now are Brooks.
  • Toting athletic clothes that are comfortable and stylish (that can take me from running to casual breakfasts and coffee shops). Zella leggings are my holy grail (and go on sale soon during the Nordstrom Anniversary sale). Other brands I love are Patagonia, Saucony, Brooks, and Lululemon.
  • Taking my trusty Oakley sunglasses that look great when I am glammed up, but function when I’m running or biking.
  • Wearing fashionable, yet comfortable shoes (I don’t want sore feet to keep me from exploring by foot). For sandals I go for Uggs and Sperry. Chloe and Josef Seibel flats are versatile and functional. Isabel Marant booties are my obsession (I can’t believe shoes with a heel can actually be this comfortable for walking all day). During winter, my Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots go everywhere I do.
  • Slipping into a great pair of skinny jeans. I’ve tried them all and Rag and Bone are my winners.
  •  Bringing a flowing dress that compliments my shoe choices.


There you have it! A better way to travel. Follow these tips and you will feel fantastic when you travel.

Do you have any healthy travel tips to add? If so, please share!

Sending you light until next time.

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