If you are tired of making decisions all the time – at work, at home, within your group of friends, for the school PTA… – establishing a new healthy lifestyle might add even more to the load. Having to make healthy meal choices 3 times a day, choosing between sleeping-in and going to the gym, resisting the donuts or splurging, working over your lunch break or going for a walk… This will soon become exhausting and extremely stressful.
Actually, stress is one of the main reasons people give up their wellness goals.
It is very important that you work on reducing the number of decisions you make on a daily basis. Not only it will limit your risks of making poor choices, but it will also help lower your level of stress hormones. After that, use my “TOP 10 tips to control your stress“ (plus a BONUS!).
Let’s see how you can easily reduce the number of decisions you make every day.
Organize your life so that recurring choices become automatic. It’s OK to eat the same thing every single Monday, to have the exact same grocery shopping list every week, to always do the same thing at the same time with the same people for a while. Especially in stressful times! This will appease your brain.
For instance, design a meal plan for a week or 2 and use it over and over again, only tweaking your shopping list according to seasonal produce. If you need help with meal plans, let me know, I can provide that to you!
Don’t forget to put into your calendar anything you need to automate, until it really becomes a habit: meals, snacks, workouts, chores, etc.
Make sure you don’t have too many clothes and shoes to choose from in the morning, and that those you have are well organized in your closet. It will save you plenty of time and loads of stress. Get rid of items you are not wearing, throw away the make-up you never use, and actually do the same with everything in your house.
Clutter is known for being a huge stressor. Give stuff away, empty your home and office. Not only you will have fewer options to chose from, but you will also reduce the time it takes for your to clean up your mess. Not to mention the rewarding feeling of having other people benefit from what you can’t put to use.
Have as many routines as possible in your week and link them to healthy habits.
You get the idea, right?
If you look at your calendar, there are many things that you already do regularly. Associate them to a healthy activity that you are trying to set up as a new habit, so that little by little, it will just be weird for you to do one without doing the other. Those routines can be lifesavers when you are starting to lose your motivation for living a healthy life.
When it comes to your “diet” and exercise plan, establish “rules” that you just have to follow without having to make decisions. Any rules! They can be completely random!
For instance, I have a rule that goes: “I can eat all the treats I want but only if they are homemade”. It makes it super easy for me to “decide” whether or not I will eat a piece of cake, wherever I am. I actually don’t have a decision to make, I just follow my rule.
Your rules don’t have to make sense or be logical. They just have to work for you and be “no-brainers”. Of course, this strategy only works if you are a rule-follower. If the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a rule is “How can I bend this one?”, you might want to focus on another tip! 🙂
If you find making decisions all the time stressful, it’s important to find ways to make decisions once and for all for as many things as possible.
Of course, chances are you are not just making decisions for yourself. You are making decisions for others too, and carrying alone the burden of the consequences.
It is time to involve others everywhere they can be involved. When you plan meals for the week, involve your family. When you plan vacations, nights out, getaways, potlucks, meetings, etc. Let others make as many decisions as possible and just be the coordinator if you really want to have control. Or you can even go further and let others handle it all while you become “just” an active participant. Remember, whatever you do, pretty much anyone else can do it too… as long as you let them do it THEIR way 🙂
Be careful though, involving others might add to your stress if it adds a lot of coordination and mediation. So make sure you are really letting go. Remember what your goals is: you want to have fewer decisions to make, you want to lower your stress level, you want to free some brain space so that you can keep your focus on what really matters to you: your health, your wellness goals, your well-being.
When you involve others, LET GO! Don’t micromanage. If the grandparents are watching the kids, let them decide what they do and when they go to bed. You are here today, right? So the grandparents must have done something right! If your spouse is cooking, just sit back and enjoy the meal. It might not be what YOU want, but remember when people do their thing, they might just do it THEIR perfect way.
– Go and look at everything you do in a week.
– Look at what you can automate, at the routines you can establish, at the rules you can put in place, and at the people you can involve. Don’t forget the kids!
– Set some time in your schedule for the coming month to go through your house and office to do some cleanup. Get rid of stuff!
– Tell people around you about what you are doing and ask them where they would like to get involved.
– Start today and make one small change right away.
If you struggle or if you feel that your stress load comes from different places, download my “TOP 10 Tips to control your stress“ (plus a BONUS!), or reach out to me. I have tools and resources that could help you a lot with stress management. Contact me at email@example.com or schedule a 20-minute phone call (FREE) so that we can chat together.
Good luck with this! You can do it, just get on it. Allons-y! Let’s Go!
©2017 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.
In the media, we talk a lot about positive psychology, and how positive thinking improves our feelings, actions, and success in life. Positive psychology is trendy, and that is a very good thing!
If you don’t know what positive psychology is, let me explain real quick with an image. If you know what it is, skip to the next section “How to think positively?”, where I will show you how a positive psychology strategy that will help you with weight management, fitness, and stress relief.
Our thoughts, when they travel in our brain, create their own trail. We call those trails, pathways. If we have a thought pretty rarely, the trail will stay narrow and rocky (or muddy if you live in Seattle!).
Just like in real life, who would invest in trying to make a trail better if no one is using it, right? If it’s a thought that is coming back to us over and over again though, the trail will become wider, smoother, until it becomes more like a highway. Now, whenever there is an event in our life that can lead to different types of thoughts, which thought do you think is most likely to come up first? A thought that has a muddy trail to travel on, or a thought that has created a highway already? The latter of course!
The idea of positive psychology is that if you intentionally think positive thoughts as often as possible, they will end up creating highways in your brain. As a result, when an event happens, a challenge presents itself, or difficulties arise in your life, positive thinking will be more likely and much faster to occur because positive thoughts will already have highways to travel on, rather than rocky trails to scramble on.
If, on the other hand, you have a tendency to always focus on the negative and be pessimistic, then negative thoughts will have highways to travel on and positive thoughts will only have tiny and difficult trails. Consequently, you will be much more likely to feel depressed, give up on challenges, have low self-confidence, etc.
One thing you can do to start thinking more positively, is to write down all the positive things that happen to you day after day. What do I mean by positive things? Well, everything that makes you feel good, makes you feel happy, proud, hopeful, excited, etc. And if you are really depressed right now, you can start with everything that does not make you feel too sad. Yes, we all have different standards for happiness, depending on where we are in life and it’s totally OK.
So when you record your positive elements, think about laughing with friends, eating something good, sleeping in, completing a project, watching a sunset, not fighting with your mother, having a smooth commute, anything that brings you some kind of contentment!
In positive psychology, we encourage patients and clients to use a journal and record, every single day, at least 3 things that went really well that day. And if you have a tendency to focus on the negative, or even to just not pay much attention to the positive, I highly recommend that you try doing this for a few months. Every night, sit down and list 3 things that went well that day or at least did not go wrong. And every morning, sit down and list 3 things that you look forward to. Make sure that you always find NEW items to list, so it doesn’t get repetitive. You need to rack your brains a little! It will require some time, but this type of intentional focus will make a big difference after a while in the way your mind is wired and in the different pathways available to your thoughts.
Now you are wondering what this might have to do with weight loss, stress relief, and exercise. Here we go! If you list all the things that make you happy, bring you joy, or make you feel good, you will be able to get a very long list after a short period of time. Do that for a couple of months, you will be surprised at all the sources of happiness available in your life.
As you keep adding to your list, categorize your items into 4 groups:
Having this list of agreeable things will help you organize your new lifestyle. Get used to scheduling as many activities as possible from groups 1, 2, and 3 in your calendar. Sometimes, we don’t really know what to do, we lack inspiration or motivation. Having a list handy is all we need to get moving again! And when you list only contains things that you love doing, what a great resource!!! Now, don’t scratch out category #4 of course! It’s not because you want to establish a healthier lifestyle that you have to quit enjoying all the pleasures that don’t help you reach your goals. Just be mindful. Spread those activities out, make sure they are not your main source of happiness.
If you have children and they are sometimes bored, I would encourage you to teach them how to do this as well. Not the categorizing part, but the initial listing part. Have them list all the little things that they enjoy doing. When the weather is bad, their friends are out of town, or the WIFI is down, they can take their list out and find something to do. Something that has brought joy to them before. Make sure they don’t just list big events such as “Go to Disney Land”. Teach them positive thinking early on. You will make them resourceful and give them a head start for working on their stress and happiness when they grow up.
Of course, don’t forget to share this article on Facebook so that your friends can benefit as well. Let’s not do this alone! Wellness is a journey and if we don’t create a community around it, it will be hard for all of us. Now think positive and be healthy. Allons-y! Let’s Go!
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), well over a third of American adults sleep less than the recommended 7 hours per night. One reason is that most of us don’t prioritize rest. We don’t make room in our busy schedule for those necessary 7 to 9 hours of sleep required for a healthy brain and body. The second reason is that even when we do our best to sleep, things don’t always go as planned and we don’t sleep well.
As we age, it becomes more and more difficult to get a good night sleep. Some say it’s because we need less sleep as we grow older. But studies don’t back up that theory. What science shows though, is that the healthier we are, the better we sleep. And vice et versa. Keep that in mind!
Science also shows that with age, it gets physically harder to fall and stay asleep, and what that means on a daily basis, is that the nuisances that didn’t affect us before, are now sufficient to completely ruin our nights. And this is what I would like to focus on in this article.
Do you know why I am awake right now? Yesterday, I had a late afternoon meeting in downtown Seattle. I rode my bike there and back. It’s hilly, I came home hungry, and right on time for dinner. I had prepared chicken curry and my superman husband cooked quinoa to go with it. Pretty neat, right? Usually, I do half chicken/half tofu when I make that dish. I will give you the recipe one day, it’s super easy and very yummy! Anyway, I forgot the tofu yesterday, so I had to satisfy my hunger with chicken only. I ate 2 or 3 oz of chicken. I know that meat for dinner does not suit me well, but I thought: I just worked out, it’s just chicken, it’s only one serving… And here we go! 3:30 am, my brain is all over the place, my body is sweating, and I am up and writing!!!
That’s what meat does to me now, cheese does the same, wine also. Back just 2 or 3 years ago, none of those things affected my sleep. But now, they do.
We all know about coffee. But it’s not just coffee! There is tea, of course, caffeinated beverages (yes, sodas too!), and alcohol. Not only because they are stimulant and will keep you from falling asleep, but also because they make you urinate more. So around 3 or 4 am, you will want to pee, AND you will be thirsty. Fatty foods, foods that are harder to digest, such as meat, cheese, or deep-fried foods, might start giving you trouble too. Try to avoid them at night and keep your dinner centered around plants (veggies, beans, non-processed grain, fruits) and super lean protein (fish, tofu, maybe a boiled egg).
What I want to tell you here is that with the years, what we used to get away with might actually become an issue. So if you are having trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, or if you don’t feel rested when you wake up in the morning, it is worth listing what you eat, drink, and do during the day, in order to find out what might be the culprit of such poor sleep. Maybe it’s not the food you eat. Maybe it’s your workout, or the TV show you watch at night, or that habit that you have to quickly check emails before falling asleep.
Look at everything you are doing and be ready to question your most cherished routines if you really want to sleep well. I used to eat a square (or 2!) of chocolate every night before bedtime. My way of closing the day and take care of myself. This lovely habit had to go! Although I keep trying once in a while, just in case… 🙂
I won’t abandon you just like that, dealing all alone with your worst nightmares. I have put together a list of 25 Tips for Better Sleep (and a bonus!) that I will give you as a thank you gift when you sign up for my mailing list. Those strategies will help you increase the duration and quality of your sleep. You will be able to download the list and experiment with it. I hope you will sleep better as you start working on this!
If you need help figuring out what keeps YOU up at night, let me know, I am here for you if you need me. Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a FREE 20-minute phone call so that we can chat.
©2018 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.
You had been looking forward to the holidays and the time off, and here you are, beginning of January, all blue and moody. More tired than ever, overwhelmed by the year ahead, behind at work and in your emails, and way ahead when it comes to the pounds you have gained.
Don’t worry, you are not alone! And if you take the time to refocus your energy on what really matters in terms of wellness, you will be able to tackle everything beautifully, and set yourself up for success.
There are 3 things you can do right now to make 2018 a healthier year.
Sit down in front of your calendar and go through every event scheduled for January. Ask yourself: “Do I look forward to this?” “Why is it in my calendar?” “Could I delete or reschedule it?” “Could I change it slightly so that I would actually look forward to it?” “If it’s something I look forward to, could I schedule it more often?”
The idea is to do more of the things you look forward to, and less of the draining stuff. It sounds obvious, but if you actually go through an entire month, you will ask yourself questions about your priorities in life, the reasons why you do things, and what really brings you joy and energy. Don’t try to skip events because they are recurring. Make the effort to question every single one of them.
This is your time, your life, and every moment is worth a slice of your attention. If you end up deleting a few events, postponing a few more (who knows, you might be able to postpone them indefinitely!), you will carve some time to relax or do things that help you recharge your batteries.
Take a look at your sleep routine and environment and again, ask yourself the right questions. Are your sleeping conditions offering you the best chances to rest and recharge? Are there easy steps you could take to make your sleep more restorative?
You can tweak your environment. Adding shades, using darker linen, making sure no tiny lights are blinking, turning off all your devices or putting them under covers, etc. You can isolate yourself more. Using earplugs, eye masks, closing a door, setting your phone on airplane/night mode, and asking others to respect your sleep as much as you respect theirs.
Sometimes, it’s your bedtime routine that you can improve. We often focus on our children, never skipping their story or bath time. But what about us? How are we getting ready for the night? Turning off screens an hour before bedtime is not only for teenagers :-)! And as we grow older, some habits that were fine before might start working against us. For me, chocolate, alcohol, meat or screen time at night have started making it hard to sleep. I am not here to give you one-size-fits-all solutions. But if you look closely at what you are doing around bedtime, what helps you sleep well and what doesn’t, you will be able to make small changes, sleep better and wake up rested in the morning.
Next time you grocery shop, proceed as usual until you check out. Then, stop and look into your cart. Pick 2 items that you know are unhealthy for you. Put them back where they belong and replace them with 2 types of vegetables or fruits, fresh or frozen. Make sure you pick replacements that you will eat. Because the whole point is not only to eliminate some foods that bring you down, but also to add foods that will increase your energy level. Fruits and veggies will do that. If you get into the habit of making them more available in your kitchen, you will naturally end up consuming them more.
If you are not quite sure what is and what is not healthy for you when you look at your cart, feel free to shoot me an email. I have ways to help you through your grocery shopping list and will be happy to share some tips with you.
This is just the beginning of many steps you can take to become healthier and happier in 2018. If you want to see all the tips I will share regularly this month, join me on Facebook and if you enjoy reading articles like this one, follow this blog and share with your friends, they will probably enjoy it too!
©2018 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.
One great way to stay healthy over the holidays, is to stay focused on what really matters to YOU. Why? Because this season is filled with temptations, invitations, solicitations, all of which lead to more stress, less sleep, and extra food & drink. As you can imagine, those don’t score very well on your health record. Not to mention the fact that because you are so busy, you can’t even find time to think about self-care. So, how can you avoid to lose your mind (and your health) during this stressful and busy time?
We have already mentioned food in our Healthy Holidays – TIP #1 and drinks in the Healthy Holidays – TIP #3. Now if we want to tackle the holidays in a healthy way this year, we have to be mindful not only of what we put in our body, but of every single thing we do.
Whether it’s sending holiday greeting cards, going to parties, or volunteering for charities, being truly aware of every single “decision” we make will help us be more selective. We will reduce stress, frustration, exhaustion, and even limit accumulating extra pounds.
I am not saying “do only what you really wanna do”. Let’s be realistic, there are people we want to make happy, good deeds we can’t pass on, and chores we can’t avoid. But if we CHOOSE the things we do, there is a good chance we will eliminate a portion of our season’s load. And no matter how big or small that portion is, it will always help us with stress, sleep, and waistline!
It takes practice to be mindful though. So let’s not wait until the last minute. Let’s reflect NOW on what we usually do during the holidays, and ask ourselves:
Sometimes we do things to please others, to advance our career, to feel accomplished, to avoid guilt, or for the pleasure. Those (and many others) are all very good reasons to do what we do! And no one besides ourselves should be judging our own personal motivations. But when we do things just because we assume we should, or because we have always done it this way, or “just ‘cuz”… that’s when it’s worth pausing for a second, and taking the time to make a mindful decision.
One big drive for our actions is wanting to make people happy, especially during the holidays. And that’s commendable; we want to make the world a better place, right? But can we take a second to make sure that what we are about to do will really bring joy around us? Is there maybe another way to spread the love, or another time? What if we say “no” once in a while? Will that make a big difference?
If you find it hard to pick what is and isn’t important to you, ask yourself who the people are who matter the most in your life. Don’t answer “my family, my friends, my loved ones…” Write down their names. Make a list of specific people you care the most about. And those who don’t make it on your list, well, maybe you can see them in January! Do the same for causes, charities, traditions. Come up with a list and stick to it. And if you feel that being selective and prioritizing is a tough thing to do on your own, send me a note (email@example.com). I can give you some tips and help you through the process.
It’s all about being selective and making decisions rather than going with the crazy flow of things. Mindfulness. That’s what it is. And once you have decided that a certain party, a certain food, a certain group of people, or even a certain cause lies toward the bottom of your priority list, stick to your decision and DON’T FEEL GUILTY. You are not Santa Claus! You don’t have a flying reindeer (do you?). You cannot do it all and please them all while caring for your health and happiness. Let go of what doesn’t matter THAT much (even if it’s still important to you) and throw yourself entirely into what/who counts the most. You will be able to make things more special and exceptional, because you won’t be stretched so thin. Try it this year, and let me know how it works for you!
And don’t forget to share this article if you think some of your friends might be overwhelmed too. THAT is not going to add stress to your day, it’s just one click! And it will help others be more selective and less stressed out too. So, here you go, one good deed checked already! 😉
As always, if you feel that you need a bit of extra help figuring out what to do and how to do it, contact me or make an appointment for a FREE 20-minute consultation. I’ll be happy to chat with you and see how you can stack all the odds in your favor. Allons-y! Let’s Go!
©2017 Allons-y Coaching, LLC – Seattle, WA – All rights in all media reserved.