Get Out of Your Own Way – and Get Healthier Now

I just returned from Serious Business, the leading conference organized by Neill Corporation, and the brainchild of Debra Neill Baker and Carol Augusto. This year’s theme was “Get out of your own way,” a powerful reminder that despite our best intentions, we are sometimes our own worst enemies…  

One of the keynote speakers was Ben Greenfield, who spoke about habits to enhance health and longevity, as reported in the book Blue Zones. This resonated with me particularly strongly as I recently read the book Ikigai, which touches on the same theme, and am in already struggling to keep some of my New Year’s resolutions.

The list of healthy habits below may not be new information, but I know I get in my own way, and needed the reminder. Here are Ben Greenfield’s healthful recommendations for cleaner, better, longer living.

  1. Don’t smoke. (If not for longer living, do this for better skin)
  2. Avoid sugar and vegetable oil.
  3. Eat dark colored fruits and vegetables, like purple cabbage and blueberries. (And put them on your skin too!)
  4. Eat legumes.
  5. Implement 12-16 hours of intermittent fasting in your routine, to help your body “clean up the trash.” That may mean giving up breakfast…
  6. Go to the gym, yes. But beyond that, incorporate low impact movement every day. (Walking or gardening come to mind) 
  7. Ensure you have a strong sense of community. (When is the last time you called your best friend?) 
  8. Possess a strong life purpose, what the Japanese call “ikigai”
  9. Ruthlessly eliminate the sense of hurry to minimize stress.
  10. Engage in a spiritual discipline, religion, or the belief in a higher power.  
  11. Remain reproductively useful. (Yes, he did tell the audience to have more sex) 
  12. Drink a little every day, mostly wine, preferably red.

Celebrating 2018, Looking Forward to 2019

Growing up, one of my favorite traditions was our family New Year’s Eve dinner. My parents, my three sisters, and I were most often somewhere in the Swiss mountains. The table was nicely decorated, the food lovely, and the atmosphere festive. My favorite part of the evening, however, was a tradition I remember my mother starting. We all (youngest to oldest) were asked to share what we were most proud of having accomplished this year, and what we were looking forward to in the New Year.

Somehow this tradition provided closure and appreciation for the year coming to a close, and also introduced the concept of New Year’s resolutions in a fun and casual way. Often times the conversation led to memories from the same conversation the previous year – and to laughs about what we thought would be our highlights versus what were our highlights. This tradition, as most traditions do, created a sense of continuity and family. For me, it became a ritual.

December 31st has since been a day of reflection, gratitude, closure. It is also a day of excitement, a day of butterflies in the belly. Tomorrow, I start anew.

Thank you 2018. It wasn’t always pretty, yet I am proud of my work accomplishments (teamwork, revenue targets achieved, a new product launched), and of my personal accomplishments (in my marriage, in my friendships, in my relationship with myself).

2019, I can’t wait to meet you. I am looking forward to the books I have not yet read; to the runs, I have not yet run; to the challenges, I have not yet faced.

Wherever you are right now, I hope you take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments this past year. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for thriving, or for surviving. And to set your intentions for 2019.

collect comments not things

2015 New Year's resolutions – happy life recommendations

We are three days into 2015, and I finally have my New Year’s resolutions in order. This year, it has taken me a couple extra days to finalize these… First, I don’t like the word resolution – so I am thinking of these as happy life recommendations. Second, I have been torn between making one only (as I did last year, to be kinder), or having a list, which is my typical MO. In the end, this is what I came up with, and who inspired me.

  • I will collect moments over things. Inspired by someone who posted this on Facebook… I can’t re-find whom. Thank you to whoever you are.

 

  • I will remember that I have enough. Inspired by Trace Barnhill’s article on Into The Gloss about cutting back.
  • I will, as I promised myself last year, be kinder still. Kindness is everything. Inspired by Well and Good NYC (via Blond Coffee).
  • I will sleep more (meaning 7 hours per night will be my minimum). Inspired jointly by Ivanka Trump (a source of inspiration committed to personal wellness, despite her very long to-do list) and Arianna Huffington (a source of inspiration and sleep evangelist).

 

  • I will remember that how far I have come is not as important as how far I can go. And I will keep moving forward. Inspired by Grant Cardone.
  • I will remember that looking good means feeling good means doing good. Inspired by my Mother.
  • I will remember to approach all situations from a place of love and to “be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.” Inspired by Pope Francis.

 

I will remember to be still, to be tranquil. Inspired by my Nana and put into words by Morgan Freeman.

May 2015 bring us all what we wish for.

'Tis the season for a goal setting retreat…

I like to-do lists. I like plans. I like goals. And one of my favorite things about the month of December is the ability to think ahead to the New Year, and to New Year’s goals and resolutions. This year, instead of coming up with a traditional list of goals by myself, I took part in a goal setting retreat (at the amazing Salamander Resort) with 4 BFFs. The format was so different than anything else I have done before (great for both personal and professional goals), I wanted to share, in case you too are looking for a tool to help plan next year, or the next 5 years…

I owe thanks to a Georgetown University friend, Peter, the founder of Netcito, as he shared the two frameworks we used for our retreat.

Peter suggested we write a “Merlin letter” – a letter to ourselves today written by ourselves in 5 years, describing to our today’s self how things are. The goal is to be as specific as possible, and to appeal to all 5 senses.

Merlin Exercise Guidelines

• This is a powerful exercise for articulating 5-year vision that can inform the goals you set today.

• Write a letter to yourself as though you were living 5 years from now.  Imagine the space that you are living in, the people around you, and what you are doing. Make it vivid by capturing what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling. Multiply the feelings 2x, 3x, and 4x to anchor them in your consciousness.

We allotted an hour for each of us, and we read each other our Merlin letters (about 5 minutes), with the balance of the time being used for the group’s input and questions and suggestions and open discussion. It was inspiring, emotional, constructive, and productive.

Peter also shared a worksheet on completing 2013 and creating 2014.

• The worksheet includes questions that provide an opportunity to reflect on what you learned and accomplished in 2013.

• The 2013 questions can help spark some inspiration for which goals to pursue in the upcoming year.

Here are the questions:

Completing 2013

Look at all the areas of your life as you reflect on 2013.  Consider Career, Creativity, Money, Health, Significant Other, Friends and Family, Fun and Recreation, Personal Growth, Spirituality, and your Physical Environment (house, where you live, where you work, etc.).

  1. What were your greatest successes and breakthroughs over the past year?
  2. What risks did you take this year that you are proud of – regardless of the outcome?
  3. What would you like to acknowledge yourself for?
  4. What are you grateful for this year?
  5. Who you are grateful for (and if you haven’t already told them, be sure to do that as soon as possible)?
  6. What was your biggest failure this year?  What did you learn from it?
  7. What was your biggest disappointment or loss this year?  How have you integrated it?  What, if anything, is left to heal or let go of?
  8. What is incomplete that you want to complete in early 2014?
  9. Overall, what was this year about for you (what’s the title of this chapter in the book of your life)?
  10. What lessons have you learned this past year that you want to carry into 2014?

Creating 2014

Use the full power of your imagination to create 2014.  What if it could be exactly as you want it?  What would that look like?  How would you feel?  Who would you be with?  Where would you go?  What would you do? How would you be spending your time?

  1. What will 2014 be about for you (the chapter title, the theme, or the metaphor)?
  2. What do you want to change in 2014?
  3. What do you want to begin in 2014?
  4. What do you want to let go of or stop doing in 2014?
  5. What one significant goal (personal or professional) will you accomplish in 2014?  What other goals do you intend to accomplish in 2014?
  6. Who will you need to be to create the year you envision?
  7. What have you learned that you want to put into use this year?
  8. What support will you need? Who will help you along the way?
  9. What is the risk you must take in 2014 in order to live the life you envision?
  10. What are you ready to commit to doing in the first 3 months of 2014?

Thank you Peter for enabling us to have such a productive goal-setting retreat. And thank you to my BFFs for being a part of it!

My 2012 New Year's resolutions

I love the last day of the year, for a variety of reasons. First, more than any other day, champagne reigns supreme. Second, it is the occasion to wear something red and new. Mom always said that wearing something red and new would bring us good luck in the New Year, and this was always the perfect excuse to buy a new dress, new underthings, a new necklace (tonight I will wear a beautiful new red dress from my favorite store in Geneva, Apostrophe). Third, the last day of the year is the day to take stock of the previous 364 days, and to plan for the next 365. Last, but not least, the 31st of December is no longer “only” New Year’s Eve, it is also the eve of my wedding anniversary. Tomorrow will be the first…

I also love the last day of the year because it is the day to think about New Year’s goals and resolutions. Here are mine.

  1. Read one book per month. (In continuation of my 2011 “read more” goal – this time it is more measurable and thus more actionable).
  2. Have one spa treatment per month. I will count eyebrow waxes and pedis as spa treatments… this should be one resolution that is fun to work on. An expression of my belief that we all need to take better care of ourselves, and that I need to live what I preach.
  3. Continue to reduce clutter. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, and I commit to purging more and buying less (but always nicer things).
  4. Develop a better morning routine. This is the same goal as I had for 2011 – I failed miserably at this this past year. Maybe it is because I don’t quite know what a better morning routine is. I just know that waking up to my phone’s horrible buzzer, checking email before getting out of bed, and immediately having my mind race about everything I need to do, every fire I need to put out, is not very zen. Maybe I should split this goal in two and say the first part is “figuring out what a better morning routine is,” while the second part will be implementing this new morning plan.
  5. Practice one random act of kindness per week. Kindness to my family, my friends, to perfect strangers, and to myself. Just because.
  6. Drink 16 ounces of water per day. In 2011, one of my goals was “drink more water” – like “read more,” it was too general and not quantifiable enough. Hence I failed. I will try again in 2012. 16 oz. may not be enough, but it’s a start. Baby steps.
  7. Continue to work at my personal relationships. Be the best wife I can be. The best sister I can be. The best friend I can be. The best daughter I can be. And more. Never take anyone I love for granted. And show/tell the people I love that I love them. Early and often.

It is only 9:30 am in New Orleans, and I have my 2012 resolutions figured out. This leaves me the rest of the day to get a head start on some of them… Happy New Year to you, may your 2012 be filled with love, happiness, health, and peace.

New year's goals

It is about mid-day January 5th, and I feel a bit behind already – the start of 2011 has been amazingly fun, but not as productive as usual. Case in point, I just wrote down my personal 2011 goals. (The business ones were taken care of the last week of December at least). I like to write them on the first page of my planner (yes, I still like paper planners), so that I can take a look at them on a regular basis and make sure I am making appropriate progress. I can’t help myself but do this every January… it must be because growing up, when I still spent New Year’s Eve dinner with my parents and sisters, we each had to take turns and say what we accomplished over the past year, and list our goals for the coming year.