Calming Ways to Use Chamomile

Chamomile is widely known and used for mild insomnia. But did you know you don’t have to drink it? If you feel restless or anxious before bedtime, you can also use chamomile in a bath or footbath to enjoy the calming effect.

Chamomile likes to grow in full sun

Chamomile likes to grow in full sun

Chamomile is also an anti-inflammatory, due to its essential oil, azulene. This may also help to lower fever. To use a gargle for sore throat, make a double-strength tea.

A cup of chamomile tea is also a digestive aid, both through calming and the bitter compounds in it.

For some individuals, chamomile has an immediate calming effect. (That would not be me.) For others, chamomile needs to be used a few times a day over several days to help. (My hand is raised on that one.)

Fresh from the garden

Fresh from the garden

Chamomile is considered safe for children.

How much? 1 tsp dried herb to one cup water for tea.

Prepping chamomile to dry in the dehydrator

Prepping chamomile to dry in the dehydrator

My experience with chamomile out of our garden: Dried and fresh taste very different. Fresh has almost no taste. Dried chamomile has a mild sweet taste.

Resources: Medicinal Herbs - Rosemary Gladstar. The Simple Book of Herbs - Lisa Bedner, R.N., Herbs for Stress and Anxiety - Rosemary Gladstar.

Tale of Two Companies - Part One

Does your workplace have a healthy breakroom and wellness culture?

It’s Employee Health and Fitness Month. Let’s create some fun and fitness in your workplace. This week the focus is on creating a culture of wellness in companies.

Screen your screen time to stay healthy

As I get final preparations completed for Connect More: A Screen-Free Week kickoff, I did some research on the impact of screens on health.

The usual came up: increased obesity, decreased physical activity, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

But I was surprised by a story out of the Fiji islands, that I share in this video. Also, Brian Adair of The Retreat at Center Hill Lake, who is co-hosting the event with me, shares some of the ways he and his family incorporate screen time in a healthy way.

How do you want to use your screens to improve your health — not derail your efforts?

My Screen-Zombie-Zone Story

I’m partnering with a local retreat center to host a Screen Free Week Kickoff Event. As we have been getting ready for this, we decided to ask each other some questions.

It brought up some “Well, this is embarrassing” moments … as well as remembering some times I’ve managed my screen-time well and motivated me to get back to it.

If you live in the middle Tennessee area, I’d love to have you join me on April 28, Sunday afternoon, to learn how to do your unique Screen Free week - plus walk, hike, and have a lot of fun together. (If you don’t live around middle TN, check out the Screen Free week website for events in your area.)

Here’s my “oops” story … (and a link to register for our Connect More: Screen-Free Kick off Event) - https://www.eventbrite.com/e/connect-more-a-kickoff-to-screen-free-week-tickets-59946971004


A new twist on Mindful Eating

When you hear Mindful Eating what do you picture? A group of monks contemplating the grains of rice in front of them? Of course, it is not the other extreme of driving, yelling (in love) at your kids in the back seat to quit fighting, while eating the burger you picked up in the drive-thru.

Mindful Eating is not about having candlelight at every meal - but it is about the emotional environment you create.

Let’s go back to your high school biology class.  (I know: moan, groan.)  Remember the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems?  Only one of these systems can be dominant at a time.  When you are agitated, excited, upset, in crisis, angry, or stressed the sympathetic nervous system is kicking into gear.  This means that the parasympathetic system is not able to function well.  You may recall that the parasympathetic system controls your digestive system.

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Uh, oh.  We have a situation.  The exciting movie you are watching with dinner, the argument you just had with your teenager, the mulling over what your co-worker did, the worrying about whether someone accepts you, or the report that is due at work tomorrow each keep you from digesting your food well. Even just looking at the picture above probably tenses your stomach.

Living in peace and joy is important anytime, but especially at mealtime!  God wants you to be healthy.  He knows that for you to digest your food well, which allows you to absorb the nutrients to “renew your youth,” you need to be joyful and peaceful when you eat.

This also includes allowing God to be the emotional lift that you need.  Many of us (especially those of us who were chronic dieters) have trained ourselves to dull (or distract) negative emotions through eating.  When you are angry or sad or bored, before you open the pantry out of habit, tell God what you are feeling.  Ask Him to show you how to process your emotions.  God will give you strength to tolerate the discomfort until it naturally passes, which it often does.  He will give you wisdom to change the thoughts causing the emotions.  He will show you answers to stressful situations.  God will heal your heartache.

10 How To's for Heart Health

Celebrating National Heart Health Month … let’s talk about 10 ways to improve your heart health and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

  1. Step number one: When was your last annual check up with your doctor? If it has been over a year, stop reading this and call to set up your appointment. Getting your baseline “blood work” (blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) and talking with your doctor about your heart health is foundational.

  2. While you are waiting for the appointment day, start walking 20 minutes a day for 3 days a week. In a 2001 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association even “1 hour of walking per week predicted lower risk” of heart disease.

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3. Got that baseline walking as a habit? Then let’s build up the walking to 20 minutes to an hour on 5 days per week. This will lower your risk even more.

4. Trouble fitting in the extra walking? No worries. Your heart doesn’t care how it gets worked, it just wants to get worked. Try cleaning house at a brisk pace or washing your car by hand or push mowing your lawn. Or try these other ideas.

5. Needing some family time? Playing tag and throwing Frisbees can get your heart pumping. (Especially if you are like me - walking to get it when I don’t catch it.)

6. Smoking? Exercise can help you kick the habit. Seek the help you need to stop.

7. An apple a day … or oatmeal … or beans … or nuts/seeds … or even avocados. These are all rich in the type of fiber that helps to lower “bad” cholesterol.

8. Laugh. A. Lot. It is great to help reduce blood pressure…which relates to #9.

9. Stress less. What are your stress triggers? How do you relieve stress? Stress comes at us all, so have a plan.

10. Strength train. Once you have your walking or other heart-pumping exercise in habit, add some strength training to increase your “good” cholesterol. Even two strength training sessions per week will help your heart health.

Questions? Let me know.

6 Reasons Why You Need to Learn to Thrive

While growing up I suspected I had developed an unhealthy relationship with food – and sometimes even exercise.  But it was years later at a work potluck Christmas party that I knew I absolutely had a problem and had to change.

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Everyone else was at the buffet ooh-ing and ah-ing over different dishes colleagues brought. 

I was in the bathroom terrified. 

“If I eat that _____ I’ll have to workout extra tomorrow. Who knows how many grams of ____ it has.”

“I want to try ____ but if I do I’ll probably not be able to stop eating it. I’ll lose control.”

“I’ll be good and just have the veggies I brought.  If I break my diet I’ll be bad.”

I realized I was the only one, apparently, who did not feel she could enjoy the food, the people, or the party and I stayed as far away from the table as possible.  Why?  I thought something was inherently wrong with me. 

Truth? By that party I had spent almost 20 years fine-tuning my “diet mentality,” through the various diet and exercise rules I “learned.”

And I wanted freedom.  Desperately.

I wanted to exercise just because it felt amazing and made me strong and healthy. Not because it burned calories I’d eaten the day before.

I wanted to eat a balanced meal because it was satisfying.

I wanted to enjoy a cookie without fear of eating five.

I wanted to go to a party and enjoy it all.

Scratch that.

I didn’t even know that was possible.  All I could fathom was maybe not being consumed with worrying about every morsel, gram, or repercussion after a party.

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Thankfully, that part of me is a distant memory, because …

I found my path to THRIVE.

Did you see?

I released a brand new course where I’m going to share with you the mindset, principles, techniques, tools and skills practiced by people who find – and follow – their unique path to health, wellness, and a Thriving Life.

It’s called …

THRIVE LIFE (Go here to learn more; we get started in just a few days.)

While there are so many health benefits to this way of life, the most surprising benefit has nothing to do typical health-parameters.

It has to do with relationships and accomplishing other goals.

Huh?

Let me explain.  Envision that same work party where I locked myself away in the bathroom.  If my mind had been free from food-fear, I would have been mingling with colleagues and enjoying getting to know their families, enriching my relationships.

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And when my mental and emotional space is not cluttered with how many calories I eat or burn or how much I do this or that, my mind is free to be creative and pursue dreams.  Plus, there is way less stress.

Here are six reasons why you need to learn your path to THRIVE.

#1 – You stop outsourcing your emotional health to food or over-exercise

You can learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

Food was created to bring you pleasure, but it is not what heals hurts or brings peace.

Exercise has many ways that it lifts your mood, but there is a point of using exercise to escape struggles vs. helping you overcome them.

When you sit with discomfort and find what actually fills you emotionally, your strength of self grows.  Your confidence to live and handle difficult situations increases.

#2 – You have mental space to pursue your dreams

This one is huge.

When your mind is cluttered with searching for the next diet or exercise program, or finding recipes that fit the new fad, or shopping for the latest exercise gear you cannot focus on what really matters most to you in life.

It may even go deeper.  If you are staying focused on analyzing food / exercise to avoid dealing with something else, it is time to move forward. 

If you are hiding your best self behind counting this or that, trying to control every bite or workout, it is time to open the curtain and step out on your stage.

#3 – You have increased physical energy

You sleep well, you wake up with energy, and it stays consistent throughout the day so you can accomplish your goals and still enjoy family and friends at the end of the day.

#4 – Your ability to enforce boundaries, with yourself and others, improves

Food police?  Exercise drill sergeant? No more.  Either from others or yourself.

You confidently handle critics.

You also are able to tell yourself “no” when a choice does not value you.

#5 – You have more fun and are more fun to be around

When your excitement comes from discussing the latest fad exercise or diet, it is a boring life.

However, when you have recent adventures or a book you read or a funny family gathering or ____ to talk about, conversations have life in them.

You meet up with people, confident as you accept yourself and others, with less judgement.

Social situations around food are no longer stressful.

You have the physical fitness to enjoy the adventures you want.

#6 – You feel successful, because you are successful

When you learn what works for your body and your lifestyle, and you have the tools and techniques to stick with it, you reach your goals.

You feel successful along the journey because you are living what you value.

#7 – This is a bonus reason because I just had, an hour ago, a conversation with a client and this reason came up – so I added it: 

You become a leader and influencer for good in those around you.

This client was waiting on the inspiration to make changes to come from his circle of family and friends.  I challenged him “Think about who you want to be.  Do you want to be the person who waits to be led or do you want to lead?  Do you want to be influenced or do you want to influence?”  I challenge you, too.  When you find your path to Thrive, you will inspire others to do the same.

This is what finding your path to THRIVE brings you.  It is one of the most amazing adventures you’ll ever go on.

Go here to check out my newest course, so you can THRIVE in your LIFE.  (We start in a few days.)

{Pop Quiz} Are you a Path Finder?

As crazy as this may sound, I want you to take a moment to imagine this:

Imagine a world where you *really* ignored the voices saying that there is only one way to live healthy and you have to conform to that only-one-way?

How would you live?

What would your relationship with food, with others, with yourself be like?

How would you move?

What would you experience?

Yes, it takes practice, but you can become a person who is unphased by what other people or the media say about how you should live your health.

But, it doesn’t just stop there.

Picture yourself:

·         Waking up refreshed with energy, excited about the day.

·         Sticking with new healthy habits, as they come easier for you.

·         Not worrying about “lifestyle diseases” – maybe even with a decrease in meds.

·         Enjoying peace in your relationship with food, not scared of it.

·         Discovering new physical activities that enhance all of your life.

·         Savoring meals, without guilt and shame.

·         Enjoying life – whether big adventures or intimate family time – free of physical, emotional, or social limitations.

Would you believe it’s possible?

It is . . . and the “how” is your being a Path Finder: finding your path to Thrive.

What are the traits of a Path Finder?  I’ve identified 7 qualities of a Path Finder –

#1 – PRACTICE Mindset

#2 – PRINCIPLES Lifestyle

#3 – PERSONALITY Focus

#4 – True PLEASURE Awareness

#5 – PEOPLE and Resource Seeker

#6 – PRESENT

#7 – POSITIVE POSITION

Do you embody these 7 traits of a Path Finder?

Finding a path in Colorado

Finding a path in Colorado

POP   QUIZ   TIME

Have you ever …

A) Decided to skip exercise because there wasn’t time for “all” of it?

B) Felt frustration because you tried and failed a program?

C) Been unable to stop the food police from telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat?

D) Beaten yourself up because of something (or how much) you ate?

E) Told yourself “What’s the point?” about a new healthy habit you tried?

F) Felt unable to relax as you multi-tasked a meal, or even a walk in nature?

G) Missed an important experience with your mind elsewhere?

Did you say “yes” to any of the questions?

You are not alone. 

At one time or another, we have all been there, done that, thought that.

Please DO NOT beat yourself up.

It is because of the lies we are taught by well-meaning family/friends and by the media.

Fortunately, it is never too late to discover and embrace the truth.

Here are some basic ways to begin to understand the 7 qualities of a Path Finder:

Finding a path in Utah

Finding a path in Utah

#1 – PRACTICE Mindset

            Experimenting with ways of eating and moving, with a lot of compassion for yourself.

#2 – PRINCIPLES Lifestyle

            Learning the principles (not rigid rules) of healthy living, based on research – adapting them as life situations change.

#3 – PERSONALITY Focus

            Discovering what is fun for your personality, your preferences, your needs.

#4 – True PLEASURE Awareness

            Knowing that false-pleasure never really satisfies, choosing what actually satisfies you.

#5 – PEOPLE and Resource Seeker

            Finding out what is stopping you from achieving your goals and then finding the people and resources that will help you.

#6 – PRESENT

            Embracing where you are and experiencing the present moment

#7 – POSITIVE POSITION

            Believing that you can do it, consuming only messages that reinforce your beliefs and dreams, and focusing on your reasons.

Learning and practicing these 7 qualities will change your life for the better.  I promise.

How much do you desire to Find Your own Path to Thrive?

I hope a lot (because it changes everything!)

Let’s keep this discussion going.

The #1 Way to Wreck Your Path and Six Signs You May Be Wrecking Yours

Here’s a question that I consistently hear: “I’m tired of doing what doesn’t work.  How do I get results?”

You buy the latest diet book every friend swears by – but then they swore by a different one 3 months ago.

You join a different gym or buy another late-night-TV fitness gadget, because this one has (fill in the blank) that the others didn’t have, so you know you’ll use it – next week.

You download another meditation or time-tracker or motivation app, but somehow it doesn’t help.

How do you get results?

Before I share how, I want you to understand that the answer goes against what main stream media and well-meaning fitness gurus will tell you.  It even goes against what my mom taught me (and it took me a while to accept that).

Here’s the answer: Find your path.

A path that is yours, that embraces your lifestyle and values, that enhances your life without consuming it. Why?  Because if it does not focus on you, no program, book, gadget or method will work for you.

Finding your path paves the way to

  • greater energy

  • freedom from worrying about lifestyle diseases

  • peace in your mind and with yourself

  • an increased enjoyment of life – whether big adventures or time with family

  • thriving in every area of your life

Go here to enroll in my newest course … Thrive Life

You can find your path to results.  Your first step, which – I know from experience - is the hardest, is to stop believing what I call the Big Lie.  It wrecks your path.

It pushes you further away from success and traps you in bondage.  The lie, like most, is subtle in your mind, but you can see signs of it wrecking your path. 

At the end I’ll tell you 6 signs that you may be believing the Big Lie.

First, I’ll share a bit of my story of believing this Big Lie and how it harmed me for well over 25 years of my life.

I used to be deeply trapped in this lie.

When I was 9 I started believing it.  I bought my first fitness magazine and started on my first diet.  The magazine (this one – this is the original one) became an authority figure in my life, telling me that I was supposed to eat and exercise a certain way.

I counted the calories on my plate; I analyzed the food on my parents’ plates when we’d go out to eat.  In fact, my dad later told me they stopped enjoying going out as a family because all I did was analyze what everyone was eating.  I wouldn’t skip exercise, even if it meant getting out of bed with a fever to finish it. 

Yes, I did that.

The deeper I got into this lie, the more restricted I became.  Others thought I was self-disciplined – but I wasn’t.  Self-discipline comes from the inside, from the self.  I was forcing conformity to an outside, external, someone else’s rule.

(A little side-lesson here … we all have a need for autonomy, that thing that protects us and our boundaries, our sense of self and our ability to choose.  I allowed this magazine – and later all of the other diet rules – to tell me what to do.  It was my job to tell me that, so I was allowing my sense of autonomy to be pushed down.  And it will only be pushed down so long.)

I remember in college going to parties, eating “perfectly” but then coming back to an apartment and eating ½ bag of my roommates cookies.

I was recently reading some of my old journals, which at the time included daily calorie counts.  I came across a section in which I was berating myself for sneak eating several doughnuts.  At the time I wrote it, I recall thinking how “bad” I was.  When I look at it now, I understand that I was starving myself for several days prior, through both under-eating and running several miles.  No wonder I was craving doughnuts.

Of course, the good news now that I don’t believe the lie anymore, I could care less about doughnuts and actually don’t like them.

So, what is the Big Lie? 

“There’s one way to be healthy and you must conform your life to that one way.”

You absolutely must give up believing this lie to reach your health and fitness goals.

Each person’s path is unique, but not random.  Your path will be based on underlying proven principles, but if you believe that there is one way to live healthy, you will be forever trying things that don’t work in the long-run and will always be searching outside of yourself. 

  • Those ways create struggle, not ease.

  • Those ways are complicated, not simple.

  • Those ways constrict and deprive you, not free you.

Are you possibly believing the lie that here is one way to be healthy and you must conform your life to that one way?

Sign #1: You skip exercise or meal-prep because something else came up.  Why?  You didn’t have time to do it “all” and you’ve believed all-or-none; don’t do something half-way.

Your Path? You believe something is better than nothing and set standards that fit your life.

Sign #2: You go workout and push yourself until you cannot walk normally the next day, then don’t workout again for weeks.  Why?  You’ve believed “No pain – no gain,” or “go hard or go home.”  Or a guru has told you that if you don’t get your heartrate into a certain zone it does you no good.

Your Path? You embrace the intensity of exercise you enjoy.

Sign #3: You eat foods that bore you, or you feel guilty if you eat something you really enjoy. Why?  Someone has been the food police and told you, “If it tastes good, spit it out.  It can’t be good for you.”

Your Path? You listen for true pleasure (not false pleasure) and savor quality.

Sign #4: You are busy and don’t exercise, believing if you don’t exercise for ____ time it won’t do you any good.

Your Path? You know the research and that helps you adapt to your life. Some days you go exercise and some days you fit in bits of activity throughout your day.

Sign #5: This ____ diet is the one that works.  It worked for so-and-so celebrity last year.

Well, that was last year.  This _____ diet is the one that really works.  It worked for so-and-so celebrity this year.  And if it is not working for you, you must be cheating.

Your Path? You understand what works for your body and you know that what you eat is not a moral issue.

Sign #6: You avoid going to a party, trying a new adventure, or just going to the gym because you have to look a certain way, touch your toes, lift a lot of weight, run a particular pace – or you are really unfit and you aren’t trying.

Your path?  You go enjoy your life, because you ignore the confining opinions and messages out there.

These lies push you further away from success.

If you want to find your path to results, you must decide once and for all that the hype and the lies, no matter how glorious and glittery they sound, are not for you.

I get it.

Rejecting the lies can be hard, but do you know what’s even harder?

Continuing to try every new one-size-fits-all rule, failing, feeling guilty and trapped.

This is why learning to find your path to Thrive in Life will be one of the most amazing gifts you’ll ever give yourself.

I am thrilled to let you know that enrollment is open for my newest course: Thrive Life. Click here for details.

Join the conversation – Which of the six signs are you guilty of that is wrecking your path?  What is one small thing you can do TODAY to help you break out of the lies and Thrive?

 

Why self-care is important: one client's story

A picture is worth a thousand words.

So, since this is a picture plus words, how many does that equal?

Seriously, this is a powerful visual I’ve used to illustrate the impact of self-care.

Top Ten Tips for Aging Healthy

I don’t like the term “anti-aging” because it somehow implies aging is a bad thing. It is not only not a bad thing, it is an inevitable thing you’ve done a few seconds of since opening this post and reading it.

Your goal is not to prevent aging but to age well. I’ll go a step further. Your goal is to get to your 90+ year old self, look back with bright eyes in a strong body and say “Yes! That was the way to live.”

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So, how do you create that strong life lived?

Here are the top ten tips from my two favorite age-well books:

  1. Keep your arteries healthy. Not very glamorous sounding, I know. But this guards against heart attack, stroke, memory loss, vascular disease, and even some wrinkles. Markers to watch? Blood pressure and C-reactive protein (for inflammation). Actions to take? Exercise, eat several vegetable servings a day, and get your annual check up.

  2. Pump up your immune system. Actions to take? Enjoy tomato sauces regularly, get your vitamin D, and see your dentist to prevent periodontal disease which increases inflammation in your body.

  3. Avoid smoking. Actions to take? Simple. Either don’t start or get whatever help you need to stop.

  4. Manage your stress. I literally mean your stress. What stresses your friends or spouse or neighbor may not stress you. And how you manage it may be different than their method, too. Actions to take? List what the major stressors are in your life and find ways to eliminate, work around, or re-frame them. Also, this month try at least one new way plus a “tried-and-true” to relieve your stress. (Hmmm…makes me want to break out my favorite old comedy, “Oscar”.)

  5. Increase your circle of friends and deepen the relationships you have. Your social network is shown in numerous studies to not only increase life satisfaction, but lengthen your life as well.

  6. Get it out. If you have experienced secret traumas in your life and you have not processed them yet, please seek counsel. The silence is killing you.

  7. Manage your money. In both books this is directly or indirectly covered as a means to lower your stress and provide for your needs throughout your life.

  8. Discover your purpose. Even if you haven’t found your “big calling” in life, focus on finding meaning in the everyday things you do and enjoy.

  9. Find faith. In one study “the risk of dying over nearly three decades was 36 percent lower for frequent church attendees than for infrequent attendees.” In Emotional Longevity the author tells a powerful story of Maya Angelou’s faith for her son’s physical healing. The doctors said he would be paralyzed. She said “Thank God, my son will walk out of this hospital.” Three days later he moved his toes.

  10. Live in positive emotions. Walk through negative ones. Sadness, grief, anxiety will come. Your ability to come through those and back into a positive place increases your “resiliency” and ability to age healthy.

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Here’s to your 90 year old self, saying “Well done. Now watch this,” while you wink at your great grandkids.

(Books: Emotional Longevity by Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. and The Real Age Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.)