Archives

October Unprocessed Challenge 2016: 8 Days of REAL Food

october-unprocessed-2016

We are almost halfway through the October Unprocessed Challenge (eating only REAL food for the entire month of October)!  This is my 4th year taking the challenge, and I am still learning so much every day!

My greatest accomplishment so far this year was finding a recipe for taco seasoning that my whole family loves!!  Taco Tuesday is so much better now, and I feel great knowing exactly what is in the seasoning!  If I get nothing else out of this challenge, I will be happy about my new taco night discovery! 🙂

This year has seemed the easiest so far of all the years I’ve attempted the challenge (last year I only lasted a few days, and then I gave up!).  This blog is what is keeping me accountable this year, and knowing that I’m going to post everything I eat is one of the main reasons I haven’t given up.  Although it seems easier than previous years, this challenge is still a LOT of work and takes a lot of planning and prep, since I often have to make 2 meals for dinner since my kids will not eat some of these new foods (although I do make them try everything.)

Below is a list of EVERYTHING I have eaten for the first 8 days, along with links to many of the recipes.  It’s not 100% unprocessed (chocolate chips are my weakness), but I am happy with my progress so far.  I am surprised that I have not really had any cravings for sweets, and I have not felt hungry at all.

For more real-food recipe ideas each day, check out the Journey To Complete Wellness Facebook page.

If you have any favorite real-food recipes, please feel free to share them in the comments on this post or on the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page!  I’ll take all the help I can get! 🙂

October Unprocessed 2016

Saturday, October 1

Breakfast: Omelet with Peppers, Onions, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

007

Snack:  Grapes ,cashews, raisins
Lunch: Salad (Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, raisins) w/balsamic

010

Dinner: Honey Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken

This is delicious!  I will be making this again (maybe a few more times this month)! 🙂

011

 

Sunday, October 2

Breakfast: Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes

I love these, and my 12-year old daughter does, too!

013

Snack:  Celery Stick, Raisins, Grapes, Cashews
Lunch: Leftovers from Dinner and  Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

The soup is so tasty!  My 13-year-old daughter loves it as well!

Dinner:  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

This was good, but my family was not crazy about it.  I had a lot of leftovers that I froze in individual portions to use later in the month.

 

Monday, October 3

Breakfast:  Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

chocolate-banana-smoothie

Snack: Plain Greek Yogurt w/1 T honey & 1T chocolate chips, Popcorn
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner: Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs

This is a favorite in our house!

 

Tuesday, October 4

Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes/Kiwi/Slice of Boar’s Head Deli Turkey
Snack: Fuji Apple, 5.3oz Greek Yogurt, ½ T Honey & 1T chocolate chips
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner:  Taco Meat w/Jasmine Rice, Lettuce, Tomato. Taco Seasoning

img_8450

 

Wednesday, October 5

Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes with Grapes
Snack:  Grapes, Chocolate Chips
Lunch: Raspberry Peanut Butter Green Smoothie (I used grape juice)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup (w/brown rice noodles)

 

Thursday, October 6

Breakfast: Scrambled Egg w/Diced Tomatoes;grapes
Snack:  Peanut Butter Cookies, cashews

pb-cookies-crop

Lunch: Leftover Chicken Soup
Dinner:  Pate Chinois

 

Friday, October 7

Breakfast: Leftover banana pancake, PB cookie
Snack: Yogurt w/honey & cc; apple; cucumbers,celery,dip,chips,salsa
Lunch: Leftover Tomato Soup
Dinner: Leftover Pate Chinois

 

Saturday, October 8

Breakfast: Leftover chicken soup
Snack: Kettle corn; Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Lunch: Strawberry/banana/yogurt/milk smoothie
Dinner: Baked Haddock,rice pilaf, and Roasted Broccoli

img_8531

 

 

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Morning to Help You Live Intentionally and Create Your Ideal Life

Do you want to live a more intentional life?  Do you want your days to be happier?  More exciting?  More productive?  More meaningful?

To achieve our ideal life, we must first recognize that each of us is the creator of our own reality and we are responsible for our own happiness.  In each moment, we have the ability to choose love and happiness.  Although we are not the master planners of our life, we have the opportunity to create our lives through intention and our daily practices.

intention leslie schwartz

Each morning, I begin my day writing in my journal.  This practice brings me a peace that I have never experienced in any other way.  When I write, I connect with my soul and I feel a deep connection to God. Writing has helped me to realize that the answers are ALL within us. We do not need to look to others or look outside of ourselves for the answers.  We just need to allow ourselves to be silent and to listen.

When I do not begin my day writing, I often feel scattered and rushed, and my day often feels unproductive.  When I do write and set my priorities for the day, I find that I am able to stay focused throughout the day. Throughout my years keeping a journal, I have discovered that there are a few things that I write about each morning that set the tone for my day and get me off to a great start. Specifically, there are 5 questions I find myself answering each morning:

1. What am I most looking forward to today?  Life is short, and we need to make the most of each day we have here.  If you want your days to be exciting, you need to make that happen.  There should be something in the day ahead to look forward to every single day.  Something other than your alarm clock should be getting you out of bed each morning.  If nothing comes to mind right away, be intentional and come up with something to be excited about for the day.  Maybe you could plan to do an act of kindness that will brighten someone’s day.  I guarantee that will make your day as well!

2. What are my top 3 priorities today?  List the 3 things you would most like to focus your attention on today.  If you are looking to make your days more productive, I would definitely recommend setting your top priorities at the beginning of the day. I have found this practice to be especially effective in my own life.  When I do not set my priorities at the beginning of each day, I find myself feeling scattered and often running around in circles.  When I do set my priorities, I feel more focused, and as a result, I get much more done.  Do recognize that life and distractions do happen, and even your top 3 priorities may not get completed.  I find that it happens often that I don’t accomplish everything on my list, especially with it being summer and my kids are home with me.  I have found that it is important to remain flexible and to think of these things as a guide for my day rather than a rigid task list that must get completed.  Also, I have learned that it is important to recognize distractions as a gift, because they are.  It’s great to set goals for our day to help us remain focused, but ultimately, we need to recognize that we are not the master planner of our lives.

3. What am I most grateful for right now?  I personally believe that gratitude is the secret to happiness, and it is essential to spend some time in gratitude each day.   It is so important to stop and recognize all of the blessings in our lives each day.  We are ALL surrounded by so many blessings.  Many of us take so much of what we have for granted, and we often don’t recognize the gifts in our lives until they are gone.  I try to come up with something different each day, and I try to include those things that I often take for granted. (i.e. a warm bed, the cool breeze of a fan on a hot summer day, etc.)

4. What would I like to learn today?   I love to learn new things!  I think life is so exciting, and there are so many things to explore and learn about.  We all learn new things each day, but every morning I choose something that I would like to intentionally learn how to do, or something I would like to learn more about. (YouTube makes this very easy.)  I have found that this practice makes my days more exciting.

5. How could I spread love into the world today? / How may I serve?  We are here on this earth to love one another and to help one another.  We were all born with unique gifts and talents.  They were given to us so we could use them to serve and to help make the world a better place. We need the help of others to survive, and others need us and all of the gifts we have to offer.  Our actions do not need to be complicated to be effective.  A simple offering of a hug or a compliment can make someone else’s day and have more of an impact than you may know.

Other ways to phrase this question might be:

  • What are some acts of kindness I could do today?
  • What are some things I could do to help others today?
  • How could I use my natural gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world today?

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

If you begin your day after answering those five questions, your day will be off to a great start!

If you would like to start your days with these questions but find yourself intimidated by a blank page in front of you, I have created a Daily Planner and Journal that will ask you each of those questions. You simply need to fill in the blanks.  (It is currently available on Amazon for only $3.99)  This daily planner and journal prompts you to answer the 5 questions each morning so you can live your days more intentionally and more productively.  It also provides a nighttime review to help you review your day and to keep a log of some of the activities that are essential in living a healthy, balanced life.  Click the book cover image below to find out more about the Daily Planner and Journal.

August 2016 Daily Planner and Journal Cover

Click cover image to learn more

 

May all your days be filled with love, excitement, learning, living, laughter, kindness, and all things good!

Peace, Love, and Blessings

Stacy

20 Ways to Love Yourself More

20 Ways to love yourself more short

Taking time for your own self-care is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, for those closest to you, and for your community.  Once you are able to love and accept yourself unconditionally, that love eventually pours out to others in an authentic and loving way.

In the case of an emergency on a plane, you are told to put on your own oxygen mask first before you assist others.  That is because you will not be of any help to anyone else if you run out of oxygen.  The same is true in other areas of life.  Loving yourself is the first step to loving others.  When we care for ourselves first and make our own needs a priority, we are better able to help those around us.  Here are 20 ways to love yourself more:

  1. Make sleep a priority in your life.  Make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, or the amount of sleep your body needs to wake up refreshed.  If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some tips to help you get the sleep you need.
  2. Drink more water.  Water is required by every cell of the body and it keeps every part of your body working properly.  Do you get the amount of water your body needs?  Guidelines for the amount of water you should drink every day are controversial and vary depending on the weight, gender, and level of activity of each individual, but the old standby of 64 oz per day is still a popular recommendation.
  3. Take a yoga class.  Yoga is a fantastic tool to help improve your health in body, mind, and spirit.  In addition to improving your flexibility, building muscle strength, and perfecting your posture, yoga can help you in so many different ways.
  4. Go for a walk outside.  Go with a friend, go with your dog, or go by yourself.  What is important is that you get out in the fresh air and reap the benefits of nature.  Nature restores health.  From the sun providing you with Vitamin D to the minerals in the rocks on the ground and everything in between, everything in nature is medicine!
  5. Observe one day of rest every week.  On this day, you will do no work.  Instead, you will take the time to slow down, relax, live in the present, enjoy time with your loved ones, and be grateful for all of the blessings surrounding you.  Personally, I feel this practice is the best thing I have ever implemented in my life.  It is not easy to do in this world that promotes busyness 24/7, but the rewards are many!  Give it a try, and see what happens.
  6. Plan time for creativity.  We were put on this earth to create.  Whether you want to believe it or not, you ARE an artist.  We all are.  Whether you like to paint, sew, draw, write, take pictures, or create music, it is time to honor that artist within you and make the time to let yourself create.  Ideally, it would be great if you could set aside some time every day, but if that is not possible, schedule time at least once a week to let your inner artist come out and play.  Don’t worry, those things that you think you “should” be doing instead will still be there when you have finished.  Try it.  Schedule time on your calendar right now.  You will thank yourself later.    “Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” ~Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
  7. Embrace your uniqueness.  Accept yourself exactly as you are.  Recognize that you were born with the personality traits needed to help you fulfill your purpose here.  Nobody else is here for the same exact purpose as you, so there is no need to compete or compare yourself to anyone else.  Although our society praises some traits over others, know that your personality traits are not weaknesses.  Learn to accept and embrace what society defines as your “imperfections,” and use the natural gifts and talents you have to help make the world a better place.
  8. Take a Real Food Challenge.  You will be surprised at how much energy you will have.  100 Days of Real Food is a fantastic resource for some great real-food recipes!
  9. Practice Gratitude.  View every encounter and experience as a gift.  Even the seemingly bad situations are a gift in the end.  Try to recognize and appreciate these gifts every day.  Think of three things you are grateful for RIGHT NOW.  Keep a gratitude journal.
  10. Move your body.  In any way you wish.  Find something you love to do, and do it!  Dancing, cleaning, walking, gardening, hiking, or swimming are just a few examples, but it could be any activity you enjoy.  The important thing is that you get up and get moving.
  11. Surround yourself with those who love, support, encourage, and inspire you.  Be kind to everyone at all times, but spend the majority of your time with like-minded, positive people.  Let go of draining friendships, stop hanging out with people who are negative or those who spend their time gossiping and complaining, and do not tolerate disrespect from anyone.
  12. Practice doing one thing at a time.  Do not multitask.  Do one thing at a time, give it your all, and be fully present in everything you do.  Heaven on Earth happens in the moments when you are fully present.  I know this isn’t easy to do.  Especially if you are the primary caretaker of a young child who requires your care 24/7, I recognize that you NEED to multitask.  I’ve been there.  But even a few minutes of focused presence can make a big difference.
  13. Learn something new.  Make the time to learn something new that interests you.  Were you always interested in learning how to decorate cakes or Irish Step Dance, but you never found the time?  You need to MAKE the time.  Take one step toward that today.  Get a book at the library, watch a You Tube video related to your interest, or sign up for a class.  Get out your calendar now and schedule some time to do this.  You will thank yourself later! 🙂
  14. Keep a journal.  You may be surprised at some of the insights that go into it.  The wisdom is all inside of you.  You just need to take the time to be still and let it flow.  Writing in a journal can also be very therapeutic and help you to release some of your worries and fears.
  15. Forgive.  Let go of all bitterness you have toward others.  It is not hurting them at all.  It only hurts you, and the longer you hold onto it, the longer it eats away at you.  If you don’t let it go, eventually those emotional issues can manifest into physical illness in your body.  Choose to set yourself free and forgive everyone now, including yourself.  Remember, everyone is just doing the best they can with what they have in the moment.
  16. Practice Mindful Eating.  How often do you eat while doing other things?  If you’re like me, it is most of the time.  I find myself eating while I work or while I drive to save myself time and increase my productivity, and as a result I end up eating more than I realize because I’m busy doing other things.  I think a lot of health issues our society faces today are due to an unhealthy relationship with food, and I believe mindful eating could help with that.  When you eat mindfully, this means you are sitting down at the table and doing nothing else but focusing on the food you are eating.  The television is not on, you aren’t working or checking your phone or e-mails.  If you want to appreciate your food more and enjoy it more fully, give mindful eating a try.
  17. Say no.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  When you do anything out of guilt or obligation, that is not acting in a loving way.  Be honest with yourself and others.  Your time is precious, and it must be guarded fiercely and spent only on those things that are important to you.
  18. Spend some time in silence every day.  Meditate.  Pray.  Write.  Create.  Do whatever it is that helps you to be still and listen.  God speaks to you in the silence. Recognize that downtime is never wasted time.  Downtime is necessary to help you to develop your most important relationships of all – with yourself and with God.
  19. Stop trying to be perfect.  In this physical world, there is no such thing as perfect.  Just do the best you can, have a positive attitude, and view every mistake as a learning experience.  Every mistake you have ever made in your life has helped to shape you into the person you are today.  Recognize that as a gift!
  20. Plan your days, but not your life.  Remember, you do not set the master plan for your life.  Make daily to-do lists to help keep yourself on track and improve your productivity, but stay flexible.  Embrace distractions and view them as gifts.  Everything is happening in its own perfect time, so stop trying to rush everything.  Stop trying so hard and just let go and allow God to work through you.

BONUS idea:  Take a Self-Love challenge.  Get to know yourself, recognize your accomplishments, and learn to identify your goals and priorities and what is important to you at this point in your life.   Learn to honor your time and achieve the balance in your life that you have been looking for.

For more ideas on how to love yourself more, or if you would like help implementing some of these ideas into your life, check out my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge.  The book expands upon many of these ideas and provides step-by-step guidance to help the readers implement them into their lives. 🙂

For more self-care tips and inspirational stories and quotes, please like my Facebook Page, Stacy Rancourt

What is YOUR favorite self-care tip?  Please leave a comment below.

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Are you tired of making New Year’s Resolutions you can’t keep?

This year, instead of focusing on all the things you want to change about yourself, what if you made a different kind of resolution? What if the only resolution you made was to love yourself more, exactly as you are?

You are a perfect creation just as you are!  You were born with so many natural gifts to share with the world, but when you focus on all the things you think are “wrong” with you or that society tells you are “wrong” with you, your precious time and energy will be spent on the wrong areas and everyone will be missing out on the real gifts you have to bring to the world. Instead, why not focus on being yourself, discovering those gifts, and sharing them with those around you?

marie forleo

When you learn to love yourself unconditionally and live a more authentic life, all of the things you think are “wrong” with you will naturally take care of themselves. For example, if losing weight was going to be your resolution, that will naturally happen when you take the time to love yourself as you are and commit to discovering the emotional cause of your eating habits. Once you are able to deal with and overcome those emotional issues, you will naturally want to care for your body and fuel it with real foods that nature intended us to eat. Then, the weight will fall off naturally. The same goes for any other area of your life that you think might need improvement.  When you begin to live authentically, everything begins to fall into place and your dreams will begin to come true!

If you do want to live a more authentic life and get to know and love yourself more but you don’t exactly know how to do that, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge was written to help you do just that.  It requires just 15 minutes of your undivided attention each day for 31-Days. You will learn to embrace your uniqueness, discover your priorities so you can spend your time and energy on those things that really matter in life, and recognize your gifts and talents so you can share them with the world and fulfill the purpose that you were sent here to make.

The_31Day_SelfLove_Cover_for_Kindle

So, whatever challenge or resolution you decide to make for this New Year, I wish you much success!

The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge Is Now Available!!

Do you want to live a more authentic, peaceful, and purposeful life? Do you want to live your life to the fullest and use your natural gifts and talents to make the world a better place?  If so, I am SO excited to introduce you to my very first book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge!

The_31-Day_Self-Love_Cover_for_Kindle

This 31-day guided journal will help you learn to recognize your worth, identify your purposes in life, and develop the habits necessary to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit.  It is intended for anyone who is starving for a little bit of alone time, or anyone who is willing to dedicate a little more time to get to know and love yourself more. If you know anyone who could benefit from this book, I would be grateful for your recommendation. It is currently available through Amazon here.

Also, if you enjoy inspiring quotes or would like to follow my journey as an author, please “Like” my FB Author page Stacy Rancourt.

THE Technique to Help You Overcome Your Fears, Phobias, and Limiting Beliefs

Would you like to overcome your fears, phobias, and limiting beliefs?  Of course you would!  We would all love to release our fears, but sometimes we hang onto them because it feels safe to stay right where we are in life.  But if you are ready to take your life to the next level, you need to make the decision to let go of these fears, phobias, and limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck in the same rut, sabotaging your success, and preventing you from growing into the person you were meant to be.

There is a technique that can help you find relief from stress, anxiety, pain, fears, limiting beliefs, and more.  This technique can be beneficial in all areas of your life, including your health, wealth, relationships, level of happiness, and much more.

But here is the BEST thing about this technique:

You can use it anytime, anywhere, it doesn’t require the assistance of anyone else, it is absolutely free, and it is very simple to learn!   It sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, it really does exist, and I know from experience that it really does work! 🙂

What is it?

The technique is called EFT(Emotional Freedom Techniques) Tapping.

It is a tool that has proven to be highly effective in helping people to overcome their fears, phobias, limiting beliefs, weight struggles, financial worries, and other issues they may struggle with in life.  Tapping is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.  You use your fingertips to tap on specific points on your body while voicing your fears or other issues that you would like to improve in your life.

My Story

I know from experience that Tapping really works!  One of my daughters developed some physical health issues last year.  After many doctor visits and tests and many school days missed, the doctors and specialists could find nothing physically wrong with her, but she insisted that the symptoms still existed.  These health issues caused her a great deal of anxiety, which resulted in the development of some fears that really starting taking over her life.   She became afraid of going to school.  She was even afraid to go to sleep at night!  We began tapping on these issues and discovered some underlying fears that were contributing to these bigger fears. We discovered the reason she was afraid to go to school was because she had witnessed a student vomiting in the classroom. She was afraid the same thing would happen to her.  We tapped on these issues every night.  She looked forward to our tapping sessions because they really put her mind at ease and helped her to relax so she could fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.  If we skipped a night, she would wake up several times in the middle of the night in a panic, feeling like her throat was blocked.  Within a few weeks after we started tapping, all of her fears were gone and all of her health issues were completely resolved!  It’s been almost a year now, and thankfully none of her health issues (or fears) have returned!  Thanks to tapping!  It definitely seemed crazy at first, but I am a believer in it now! 🙂

Learn How to Tap from the Experts for Free

Would you like to give it a try for yourself?  The picture below from Thriving Now shows the tapping points on the body.tapping images

To learn exactly where the tapping points are and for help on what to say, Jessica Ortner offers the perfect beginners guide to tapping in this video.

If you would like to learn more about Tapping, visit The Tapping Solution to watch more instructional videos for free, learn the science and research behind it, and download some very useful tapping sessions to help reduce stress (these are the sessions I used with my daughter.)  There is even a film on tapping called The Tapping Solution Documentary, and a book by Nick Ortner called The Tapping Solution.

Please understand that some of the more traumatic issues you may be trying to overcome may require professional help. If you begin tapping and an issue comes up that feels like it is too much for you to handle yourself, please seek the guidance of a professional counselor.

Good luck, and if you have (or have had) great success with tapping, I would love to hear your story.

 

 

EVERYTHING is a gift!

everything is a gift2

Everything that has happened to you so far in life has happened FOR you.  It is the combination of every single event and every single person you have met so far in life that has made you into the person you are today.  You may not realize it in the moment, and it may take a very long time to find the “good” in some situations, but trust that everything that happens is for a reason — to help you grow and become the person you were meant to be.  Learn to embrace each experience and situation that happens to you and view it as a gift to you and the world.

This is THE mantra that gets me through the tougher days in life.  When something unfortunate happens in my life that is out of my control, I remind myself that it is a gift.  And I truly DO believe it.  Some of my most difficult situations have turned out to be my greatest blessings.

Eventually, when we look back on our lives, we will be able to understand the gift in each situation, no matter how unfortunate it may have seemed in the moment.

Try it now.  Identify one event in your life that seemed unfortunate when it happened, but it turned out to be a blessing.

The next time something unfortunate happens that is out of your control, gently remind yourself that it is happening for a good reason and is in fact a gift. 🙂

**This post was also published on my blog Stacy Loves.

11 Steps to Help You Achieve Your Wellness Goals

11 steps to help achieve wellness goals JTCWSetting wellness goals are an important part of achieving personal growth.  Having a goal in mind can help push you to that next level of health in body, mind, or spirit.

I personally like to set a new wellness challenge for myself every month. It is said that it takes 21 days to develop a habit, so a monthly challenge is sufficient time to instill new healthy practices into my lifestyle and make them habit, but it is not so long that I get bored with the challenge. Monthly challenges work for me, but everyone is different and each challenge is different, so set a challenge and time-frame that works for you.

Whether my monthly goal is mental, physical, or spiritual in nature, I essentially use the same steps and tools to successfully achieve my goals.

  1. Set the goal.  Make it very specific and measurable.  For example, instead of setting a goal to “drink more water this month,” I would set a goal to “drink 8 (8oz) glasses of water each day.” That is a very specific and measurable goal.
  2. Write it down. Put it somewhere visible so you are reminded of it often.  For example, this month I am participating in the February Acts of Kindness challenge with my family.  We have hung up our Daily Logs on the refrigerator to track our progress. Every time we go to or open the refrigerator, we are reminded of the challenge.
  3. Break it down into smaller, very specific and manageable steps.  If the goal you have set is a larger goal that may seem overwhelming or unreachable at the beginning, break it down into smaller, very specific, manageable steps. For example, my goal for March is going to be to de-clutter my house. That is an enormous task!  Therefore, I will break it down day by day and come up with a manageable step for each day of the month.  When I look at my to-do list and see “organize the utensil drawer”, I am more apt to go do it than if I see “clean the house.”  Clean the house is a big task and it is not very specific, so I may not be as motivated to get up and start cleaning if I don’t know what it is I should be cleaning.
  4. Schedule it. Once you have broken your goal down into specific tasks, add them to your monthly calendar (in ink), put the task(s) of the day on your daily to-do list, and set aside a specific time each day to work on them.  I am a list-maker, so I find it very satisfying when I am able to cross items off my to-do list.  If you have allotted a specific time to work on your goal, you are much more likely to reach it than if you have to find “spare” time in a day.
  5. Allow yourself a day off each week.  Whatever your challenge, allow yourself a day off each week. If you don’t allow yourself a little time off, you may get burned out and discouraged with the challenge. If you took my January “Love Yourself More” Wellness Challenge, you may have noticed that I gave the participants Saturdays off and encouraged them to reserve Saturdays as a day of rest, quality time with family, and practicing presence. If I could offer everyone just one piece of advice about life, it would be to slow down and observe this day of rest every week (it doesn’t have to be Saturday – pick the day that works best for you.)  That one simple practice has changed my life and helped to improve my relationships with myself, with God, and with others. I know it could do the same for others.
  6. Set a reward for yourself.  This step is often overlooked, but I feel this is a crucial step in any challenge you set for yourself.  Oftentimes, completing the challenge is a reward in itself, but you also need to come up with a simple pleasure to reward yourself with upon completing the challenge.  For example, if losing a specific amount of weight is your goal, you might reward yourself with a new outfit upon completing the goal.  This will give you something to look forward to, and it will help you to stay motivated to successfully complete your challenge.
  7. Get Accountable.  Accountability plays a big role in the success of any challenge. If you are not being held accountable, then it makes it that much more difficult to stay motivated and continue with the challenge. The best way I have found to stay accountable is to find a buddy to do the challenge with me.  In that way, we can support each other along the way.  Personally, I feel I am more successful when I am accountable to someone else rather than just being accountable to myself. For example, I walk with a friend every weekday morning.   If I don’t feel like walking one day, it is very easy to skip the walk if I’m going alone, but it’s not so easy if my friend is counting on me to walk with her.  If you can’t find a buddy to take the challenge with you, find someone to hold you accountable and ask you about your progress frequently.  Other ways to help with accountability might be to join support groups related to the challenge, to blog about your experience (as I did with the October Unprocessed challenge), or even to keep a journal for yourself.
  8. Get Support. The best way I have found to stay motivated and to get support is to find someone to take the challenge with me. Social media has made that very easy to do.   With some of my previous challenges, I have found that Facebook support groups have been an essential part of my success in completing the challenge.  Connecting with like-minded people who have the same goal in mind is a very good way to help you stay on track, stay motivated, and get through obstacles together.  When I participated in the October Unprocessed challenge (eating only REAL foods for an entire month), the Facebook support group set up for the challenge played an integral role in my success. I found it very inspirational when members of the group shared their REAL food recipes, and I learned a lot by reading about the successes and challenges others encountered.
  9. Track your progress in some way. Whether you keep track of your progress in a daily journal, through a daily log on the refrigerator, through blogging, or through technology such as wearables and apps, it is important to keep track of your progress to help you stay motivated and focused.  There are so many options nowadays to help you with this, and I will discuss them in my next blog post.  Look for it this week! 🙂
  10. Don’t get discouraged.  You will most likely encounter some obstacles throughout the challenge, and some days it may feel like you are taking 2 steps back for every one step forward.  Don’t give up, and don’t get discouraged if you slip up.  Nobody is perfect, and perfection is not the goal anyway.  You are allowed (and expected to) make mistakes and have a bad day once in a while.  Learn what works best for you through trial and error, and if you slip up, begin each day anew.
  11. Reward Yourself. Please do not overlook this step.  Once you have reached your goal, treat yourself to the reward you set in step #6.  If you do not reward yourself at the end, it will likely affect the outcome of future goals as well.  Stay true to yourself and make it a priority to stick to the rewards you promise yourself.

If you strive to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit, setting wellness goals are an essential step. Striving for a life of balance in all areas is the key to achieving optimum health.

wellness2Whatever goal you have in mind, know that you can do it if you set your mind to it, make the time for it, and make it a priority. Follow the 11 steps above, and you are likely to succeed. Good luck!

Wellness body mind spirit

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Do You Want to Love Yourself More?

What if the only resolution you made this year was to spend some time getting to know and love yourself so you could live a truly authentic life, using your natural gifts and talents to make the difference you were sent to make in this world? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love yourself?  How well do you know yourself? If your answer to either of those questions is not as high as you would like it to be, I invite you to download my FREE e-book/journal to participate in my 31-day challenge beginning on January 1, 2015. You will need 15 minutes of uninterrupted time each day to focus on yourself.  Turn off the phone, television, and get away from any distractions.  Each day, you will be asked one question that will help you get to know and love yourself more. At the end of the month, the desired result will be a deeper connection to yourself, more inner peace, love, and acceptance of yourself, and hopefully a clearer vision of your priorities and where you are going in life.  You will not need to reveal your answers to anyone. If that sounds like just what you need right now, you can download my e-book/journal The January 2015 Love Yourself More Challenge  for FREE.  The e-book will only be available for free for a limited time, so click on the book cover below to download it, and join me in working toward becoming healthy in mind, body, and spirit! lym cover2 resized updated

10 “Secrets” to Inner Peace

10-secrets-to-peace

As I was meditating on the 10 Commandments recently, I realized these life guidelines are a wonderful gift to us. In a perfect world, everyone would follow these commandments, suffering would be completely eliminated, and everyone would be full of love and free of worry. We would all be at peace with ourselves and wouldn’t be afraid to “be ourselves.” We would all be loved and accepted just as we are, with no pressure to conform to what society says is “right” and “wrong”, and our uniqueness would be appreciated. We would all know ourselves and be able to identify our gifts, we would know God, and we would know that underneath it all, we are pure LOVE. Everyone would lovingly share their natural God-given gifts and talents with each other to make the world a better place.

But we do not live in a perfect world. We have free will. While free will is generally a wonderful gift (without it, we would not be able to grow), unfortunately it allows for all of us to occasionally take some actions out of fear rather than love. Each action taken out of fear eventually causes suffering, either in our own life or someone else’s. That is exactly what the 10 Commandments are trying to prevent.

The 10 Commandments are not secrets at all.  They are widely known and accepted by various religions, but they are not always followed.  When reading the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 of the bible (NIV), initially they seem very harsh and instill fear in me. After spending some time meditating on them, I see the reasons behind them and see that they are all based on LOVE. They are guidelines to help us avoid suffering.  Here is my attempt at a “loving” 2014 interpretation of the 10 Commandments:

 1. Make God (a.k.a. “LOVE”) the #1 priority in your life.

 Having complete faith and trust in God will allow you to let go of all your worries, give them up to God, and live in peace.  As one of my favorite sayings goes, “Let Go.  Let God.”

God is the one constant in your life. Everything and everyone else will come and go, but your creator will never leave you. During the difficult times in life, trust that everything is happening exactly as it should. I believe that everything happens for a reason and always for the greatest good, even though we may not understand the reasoning right away. I believe that there are no accidents in life, and every experience we encounter each day is a gift. My trust in God is what gets me through the difficult times, and those times have proven to be some of the greatest blessings in my life.  Remember that you are not the master planner of your life, and everything will always work out for the best in the end. When you are able to give all your worries up to God and let go of trying to be the master planner of your life, fear will be replaced with LOVE, and you will know peace.

So, how do you make God the #1 priority in your life?

It all starts with loving yourself.   When you make the time for self-care and you really take the time to get to know, love, and accept yourself exactly as you are, you will find God within you.   When you love yourself, you will respect your life and your body. You will want to feed your body healthy foods and feed your mind only healthy thoughts. You will want to spend more time on your personal growth, trying to better yourself each day so you can be the best person you can be.

Society tells us self-care is selfish. Society tells us to take care of everyone else first and put ourselves last. I believe this commandment is telling us the opposite. It is telling us to put God first. Since God is within you, the more time you focus on loving yourself, the more you will come to know Him. When you take the time to care for yourself, you will be better able to care for others. If you don’t love yourself, it is impossible to love others. God speaks to us in the silence, so if you don’t take time to be still, it is very difficult to hear God. Since God IS love, the more time you spend getting to know yourself and God, the more you will be filled with love. Eventually, you will be so full of love that the love will start to pour out onto others. Your actions will be done out of pure love rather than guilt or obligation, and you will be fulfilling your purpose on this earth.

If anyone or anything besides God is #1 in your life, it will take away your inner peace and cause suffering.  This includes money, addictions, power, possessions, etc.  Let go of your need for these things, and trust that God will provide whatever is needed in your life.

Do you feel at peace right now? If not, ask yourself what or who is the top priority in your life.

The 1st Commandment from Exodus 20:3 NIV states:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

2. Focus your time and energy on relationships rather than possessions.

We all came into this life with no possessions and will leave this life with no possessions. Do not worship or get too attached to your possessions. All possessions come and go, and they don’t really belong to us anyway. Everything we have belongs to God and is a gift from God. Spending too much time and energy consumed with acquiring and maintaining possessions leads to an empty life. Remember, “The best things in life aren’t things.” At the end of your life, the shiny car you drove or the house you owned will not matter. The only things that will matter are the relationships you had: with God, with yourself, and with others. Take the time to nurture your relationships. LOVE comes first.

The 2nd Commandment from Exodus 20:4-6 NIV states:

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3. THINK before you speak. Is it:   True?  Helpful?  Inspiring?  Necessary?  Kind?   If not, keep it to yourself.  Everything you say should be done out of love.

 Speak only kind words about yourself, about God, and about others. Since God is within you and God created you, speaking negatively about yourself is the same as speaking negatively about God.

Speaking poorly about yourself, God, or others will destroy your inner peace, so do your best to keep your thoughts and words positive. Philippians 4:8 states: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

There are many proverbs and verses in the bible that promote the idea of thinking before you speak.

Proverbs 29:20 states: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. “

Proverbs 10:19 states: “The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.”

James 1:19 states: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”

Ecclesiastes 5:2 states: “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

The 3rd Commandment from Exodus 20:7 NIV states:

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

4. Each week, take a full day off to recharge.

This is my favorite tip, and the one practice that has made the greatest impact in my life! Since following this advice, I have come to know myself better, I feel like I know God much better, I feel like I know what my true priorities are in life, and I feel relaxed, happier, less-stressed, and much more at peace.

Each week, set a day aside to rest. Do your best to plan all your work around that day each week. Spend the day enjoying your family and friends, and take the time to stop and truly appreciate all the blessings surrounding you. Allow spontaneity, especially if you follow a strict schedule the other 6 days of the week. Allow yourself to get bored once in a while and really get to know your true self. Be fully present wherever you are, and focus completely on what you are doing. Notice the little things, and try to spend the day in a state of gratitude. You may be surprised what a positive impact this will make on your life, and may find that allowing yourself the time to relax and recharge actually makes you more productive.

The 4th commandment is a blessing, and if more people followed this commandment and took the time to relax and recharge each week, I think people would have much less stress in their lives, much more peace, and families would be much stronger. It is personally my favorite day of the week!

The 4th Commandment from Exodus 20:8-11 NIV states:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

5. Respect your elders, and take advice from those you admire.

When you are a child, those who care for you generally have your best interest at heart. If you listen to them, you will be safe, protected, and live a long life. If you ignore their advice, you will be putting yourself and your life in danger. Take advantage of the wisdom your elders have gained, and listen to them so you don’t have to learn things for yourself the hard way.

The 5th Commandment from Exodus 20:12 NIV states:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

6. Respect each other. Respect the environment and all the creatures of the earth. Do not intentionally harm anyone.

We are all one big family inhabiting this earth together. We need to love, respect, and accept each other. Every person and every thing we encounter each day is a gift. We need to recognize, appreciate, and respect all the gifts we have been given and treat them all with love.

The 6th Commandment from Exodus 20:13 NIV states:

“You shall not murder.”

 7. Keep your promises. Help others to keep their promises.

 Broken promises cause suffering. If you aren’t positive you can keep a promise, don’t make it. Select your words carefully. Instead of saying, “I will…” get into the habit of saying “I will try…” or “I might…” or “I’m planning to…” Sometimes unforeseen circumstances prevent you from doing what you say and promises are broken, causing disappointment. I rarely make promises, but when I do, I take them seriously and make sure I can fulfill the promise I made.

Also, do not interfere with a promise someone else has made, especially if it is a vow in marriage. Marriage is not something to be taken lightly. When two people love each other and take the vows of marriage, it is a promise they make to each other and to God. Everyone needs to respect this promise.

The 7th Commandment from Exodus 20:14 NIV states:

“You shall not commit adultery.”

 8. Respect the belongings of others.

Recognize that people work hard to earn everything they have. If you want something, you must also work hard to earn it. Do not take what doesn’t belong to you. Also, do not be afraid to ask if you need something. Matthew 7:7 NIV states: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” If you want something, work for it. If you need something, simply ask, but do not steal.

The 8th Commandment from Exodus 20:15 NIV states:

“You shall not steal.”

 9. Be honest with yourself and others, and treat everyone with love and respect.

 Be completely honest with yourself and others. Don’t say yes when you mean no. Doing things just to impress or please others doesn’t help anyone, and it will only cause you resentment in the long run. Make sure EVERYTHING you do is done out of love. Doing anything out of guilt or obligation is not an act of love.

Speak only kind words about others. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all. Do not gossip, spread rumors, or consume your precious time with the way others are living their lives. Rather, put your time and energy into improving your own life and helping others to do the same.

The 9th Commandment from Exodus 20:16 NIV states:

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

 10. Be grateful for what you have.

I believe the attitude of gratitude will always bring happiness and peace. Focus on your blessings and give thanks rather than focusing on your wants. When you focus on your wants, you are focusing on the things you are lacking in your life, and that just puts you into a state of fear. On the other hand, being grateful puts the focus on love and abundance. Instead of always going after the latest model car, phone, etc., learn to be content with what you have. According to Buddha, craving and desire are two of the biggest causes of suffering.

The 10th Commandment from Exodus 20:17 NIV states:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 Conclusion

If everyone followed these 10 commandments all the time, I believe suffering would be nearly, if not completely eliminated, and we would all be at peace. But the reality is, we are all human. We all make mistakes and break some of these commandments from time to time. When that happens, we can guarantee that someone will pay the price for our mistakes. We may cause our own suffering, or we may cause the suffering of someone else. But the good news is, it is not the end of the world and we can be forgiven if we just ask for it. We can wake up the next morning, thank God for a brand new day, and start new.

Overall, I think Jesus summed up the 10 commandments perfectly in Mark 12:30-31 NIV

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Also, you can never go wrong if you follow the golden rule:  “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

May your days be filled with love, peace and blessings!