Love ThySelf-To Thine Own Self Be True

There are bucket lists, rainy day lists, pros and cons lists, but what about a DO list? Do you have a list of things you actively want to do for yourself but just “can’t find the time?”  Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to put that plan into practice.

While most people associate Valentine’s Day with lovers, and couples, kids and families, the perception that we can love ourselves gets a raised eyebrow. I’m not talking about THAT kind of love. I’m hinting about love of self and pampering ourselves for a change.

We already know that women don’t take the time or feel that they can’t.

Here are some easy and quick ways to be loving yourself this holiday.

  1. Get a massage or spa treatment of your choice. You deserve it!
  2. Splurge on a nice “something-something” for yourself you’ve had an eye on.
  3. Get yourself some flowers – and they’ll be the perfect choice!
  4. Like to journal? Start a fresh journal for the year and write about the ways you can practice self-care!
  5. Do you find that you’re very self-critical? Give yourself a break, at least for today.

The heart can be a mysterious place but it doesn’t have to be. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today’s guest author is Mollee Bauer, founder of pregnancy.org, the premiere website for info and support for pregnant and new moms.

Why Weight To Be Fit and Fabulous

Like Stacey, I’m a People magazine fan (what a great escape!) and last night at the grocery I noticed Demi Moore on the cover with the caption she’s “barely eating” because her life’s falling apart. While I hate to see anyone suffer, I did wonder why celebs don’t eat themselves into a stupor when they feel stressed out like the rest of us. At least indulge a little, right?

I used to indulge a lot From my early teens to mid-twenties my weight bobbled up and down 50 lbs. I tried all kinds of diets, including my favorite where I ate a light breakfast, one giant chocolate-covered ice cream cone for lunch and a light dinner. I actually lost weight on it because I enjoyed the ice cream so much.

It wasn’t until midway through graduate school when I stumbled across a book Fat Is A Feminist Issue that I figured out what to do. In it, Susie Orbach discusses how women use weight to deal with relationships with men as well as the conflict over being valued for their brains or bods.

Reflecting on her ideas, I realized that every time I slimmed down, I got more welcome and unwelcome attention from men. Since I wasn’t assertive, it was easier to pile on the  pounds than tell them to back off. Also, when I weighed more men took me more seriously and as a women who values being “brainy,” this worked better too.

With the help of Orbach’s book and some soul-searching, I was able to remove the obstacles to maintaining a healthy weight. I learned that if I was clear about who I was inside, the outside could reflect that without hiding behind extra pounds. I could be smart, sexy, strong and assertive. I didn’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

This week think about how your appearance reflects your inner life. What do you need to change on the inside before you change on the outside? What’s getting in your way?

Making Your Resolutions Stick!

January is coming to an end and our New Year’s resolutions are in full swing…or are they? How do we make the resolutions we committed to come to fruition? These ideas might help you get rid of bad habits and kick-start that new phase in your life.

1. Pick just one thing. If you’re aiming to change your life, don’t try to do it all at
once. Pick one area or thing to change and start there.
2. Plan ahead. To ensure success, research the change and plan ahead so you’re
prepared.
3. Anticipate problems. There is always going to be something. Identify what
could possibly crop up.
4. Pick a start date (one that’s really attainable). Who says you have to make
these changes today? Pick a date and stick to it.
5. Just “Go for It.” When you hit that date, go for that goal 100%. Make the
commitment; write it down on a card. Keep that card with you at all times to
reinforce the goal.
6. Accept failure. We’re human. Realize that you’re not going to be perfect.
7. Plan on rewards. If you hit your goal, and keep to your resolutions, reward
yourself with something that really makes you tick.

Whatever your plans for 2012, we wish you the best on your endeavors.
Don’t forget that your life is your own; you make your own luck, and decide how you get there!

Today’s author is Mollee Bauer, founder of pregnancy.org where smart, savvy moms go for the best advice and support on the web.

Oh, Where Does the Time Fly?

[OK, please don’t smack me!] Wow! It’s already more than half way through
January, 2012! Can you even believe it? One of the things that I have never truly
been able to do successfully is to set aside a normal “regular” day to be more of
a “really important” one here and there. If you look at every day as a gift, true “lesser important” days can’t even occur.

Every day is as significant as the last; however, it may just not appear that way because a lot of “normal ol’ stuff” and “regular” days do have a lot of overlap. Yes, we get up, go to work, perhaps go to the gym, rinse and repeat. That’s one of the reasons health and fitness professionals suggest that a varied routine is one that you will stick to over the weeks, months and years – well, that, and getting a workout buddy! There’s just something nice about knowing that another person is trying to do the exact same thing you are and is probably experiencing the exact same obstacles, too. Put your two heads together and perhaps you’ll be able to surmount the same challenges in half the time!

If working out isn’t your thing, buddying up with someone pursuing the same goal still improves your chances for success. In fact, social support is key in making change stick. Join us in encouraging each other to keep livingselfcare one day at a time. Together, let’s create the changes and lives we desire.

Making Changes That Fit With Who We Are

This month we’ve been talking about how to succeed at our New Year’s resolutions. If you’re just joining us, we’ve discussed: 1) setting goals which are realistic, attainable and important; 2) drawing inspiration from and encouragement from others; 3) remembering change is a process which occurs in steps; and 4) accepting personal responsibility for what we want to happen.

After reading the latest issue of Oprah on how to “Express Yourself” and getting an e-mail from Jean Houston on  “Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” I thought about another important ingredient. Being certain the changes we want to make fit who we truly are or reflect the “essence” of what’s inside of us. If that sounds heady, it’s not but it is challenging.

As women, we often choose goals that reflect what we think other people want for approval and security. We choose careers, interests and relationships that may not nourish us but are the “right” thing to do. Then we wonder why we don’t feel motivated to exercise more, organize our house or prepare healthy meals. It’s because these changes don’t necessarily reflect who we are. Not that everything can but at least something should.

This year resolve to choose one change that feeds your soul. Express your creativity through writing, photography, or art. Desiring more adventure, go ziplining, whitewater rafting, or skydiving. Visit Lesley Carter’s site for great ideas. Release your inner diva through song, dance and personal style-like The Cubicle Chick. Whatever you choose, be fearless and make it your own!

Commit to Your Inspiration-Perspiration Workout for 2012

Each year I try to come up with “new” New Year’s resolutions, but most of the time I return to the same ones. Those haunting “life issues” that persist in spite of my best intentions. Two of my finest are: 1) Don’t take things personally; and 2) Don’t make assumptions.

This year, I decided to get ahead by listening to one of my favorite audiobooks about changing these habits, The Four Agreements. In it, Don Miguel Ruiz maps out a detailed plan of how to stop taking things personally and making assumptions. Usually, I listen to these inspirational messages on the way to and from work. It helps strengthen my commitment to change and persistence.

I’ve been doing this for several years and it’s a strategy I think most of us can benefit from. However, here comes the perspiration part. There is no way I (or anyone else) can change our thoughts or actions without choosing different ones. Like Nike says, “Just Do It.” Throughout the day, I have abundant opportunities (as most of us do) to be aware of these thoughts and to challenge my “stinking thinking.”

Last week, I heard from a friend I’d phoned  2 weeks ago forgetting she’d gone out of town. In the meantime, I’d decided that I’d offended her and that’s why she hadn’t called. My #2 “Don’t make assumptions.” Clearly, I haven’t practiced this enough.

I’m committed to my inspiration-perspiration workout for 2012. What are you resolved to change? What inspires/strengthens your resolve? Let us know.

Are You Ready to Make Change Stick?

Einstein said “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it. ” So how are you prepared to approach your New Year’s resolutions differently this year in order for them  to succeed?

The truth is good intentions only go so far and then there is the hard work of continuing to change day after day.  The following are some recommendations to help you make change stick.

  1. Think big.  Start small.  Break down the change you want to make into attainable steps.  For example, if you want to exercise and you haven’t been to the gym in years, dedicate 30 minutes twice a week to go for a walk or take a fitness class.  Create goals you can maintain.  Once you’ve mastered one step, take the next one.
  2. Remember change is a process.  Habits take time to learn and longer to unlearn.  How long have you been smoking? Overeating? If it’s been longer than a year or two, it’s probably something you do automatically.  Start by consciously monitoring when you smoke, overeat, etc. and making a different choice which will eventually become a new, healthier habit.
  3. Be accountable.  Only you can make change happen whether it’s losing weight or quitting smoking.  No matter how much work or relationship stress you experience, doesn’t mean you have to reach for a Big Mac or a cigarette. Only you have the power to change your life.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? How are you making change stick? What’s working or not?

Give Yourself to Love, Light and Laughter

In 1982, Kate Wolf wrote “Give Yourself To Love.” The lyrics go as follows: “Give yourself to love if love is what you’re after; Open up your heart to the tears and laughter; And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.” While it’s a short song, her point isn’t missed on us. The song is about conquering our fear of intimacy and opening our hearts.

With New Years here, we rush to get out our proverbial paper and pen (or computer/tablet) and create grand lists of resolutions to conquer our challenges. From weight loss and eating healthy to getting more sleep, our good intentions often fail because we try to do too much.

What if our tasks and resolutions were as simple as “I’ll laugh or smile more,” or  take five minutes for ‘me-time’ every day? Wouldn’t these seem more practical, meaningful and important to incorporate and stick to than “I resolve to run a marathon or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.” While a marathon or a mountain climb would be a great feat, does it really count more than the simple act of smiling at ourselves and our loved ones on a daily basis?

From our family to yours, we wish you and yours a tremendous 2012. Create the steps that carry you to fulfilling all your self-care goals!

Today’s author is Mollee Bauer, founder of Pregnancy.org which gives moms the tools they need to empower themselves, conquer their challenges and overcome obstacles to self-care.

Self-Care Brings Holiday Cheer

With Hanukah tomorrow and 6 days until Christmas, holiday stress is peaking. So this week, we’re focusing on self-care basics to preserve health, happiness, and your remaining sanity. First, make time to eat; your body can’t run without fuel. Exercise once or twice by going to the gym, walking your dog, or riding your bike. Recharge your emotional engine by making time to savor what you enjoy-a  great cup of coffee, a manicure, or visiting a friend. Feed your spirit by walking in nature, positive affirmations, and giving to others.

Second, practice relaxation. Take breaks in the day. Stop running around at record speeds. The “perfect gift” doesn’t exist so stop and breathe. Close your eyes and spend 5 minutes, breathing in to the count of 3, holding for a couple seconds and then out to the count of 3. If a thought creeps in, let it go. Focus you attention on your heart spreading calm and warmth through your body. Repeat 2-3 times a day. Studies show that relaxation boosts immunity, lessens pain and improves mood.

Finally, spend your time wisely. Choose one activity which makes the holidays special for you and Do It! Maybe baking or caroling or watching a holiday DVD. Don’t let your “to do” list consume you. Prioritize what has to get done, and cut out what you can. Stop and think “Will doing this make me feel good” or tired and stressed. The better you feel, the more you’ll enjoy the holidays and so will those around you.

Make Self-Care Your Holiday Gift

This past week I went to Hilton Head, SC for a conference on the psychology of health, immunity and disease, or how our emotions and thoughts affect our biology. I loved it and got to attend with one of my best friends which made it most enjoyable. Even so a week beforehand, I started to panic. How could I abandon my clients during the holidays? How could I be so insensitive and selfish? What was I thinking when I made my plans in August? Clearly, I wasn’t.

However, when my plane left St.Louis last Wednesday, I felt happy and peaceful with my Starbucks in one hand and Real Simple in the other. My guilt pangs lessened. In fact, my joy and contentment heightened as my journey progressed. I wasn’t dwelling on the responsibilities I’d left behind or the distressed calls which might greet me when I returned. I was giving myself a self-care holiday and it felt great!

I even chose to stay an extra night so I wouldn’t have to rush home just as the conference ended. Instead, I walked on the beach, visited the bookstore, got the best facial ever, and watched a movie in my room while sitting on my bed eating tuna salad followed by white chocolate bread pudding. Truly, heaven on earth.

Now, whatever happens, I’m ready-refueled and restored. Except maybe for a little more dessert.

What are your self-care plans this week? As we say, self-care isn’t selfish it’s self-preserving and it feels great!