Take Your Brain to the Mental Gym

Like any muscle in the body, your brain grows stronger as you use it. That’s the concept of the mental gym which suggests you treat a “brain workout” as seriously as you would a workout at the gym. That means employing the same intensity, discipline and the same process of stepping outside your comfort zone to get results. Two practical ways you can do this is to intentionally put good stuff in and to intentionally practice being quiet.

Click here to download my free mental gym workout planner!

Our brains are bombarded with information these days, constantly. More than ever before. Unfortunately, most of it is noise or it’s negative. You have to make the conscious decision to put in good stuff. On purpose. What kind of good stuff? Well, there’s all kinds of choices out there from good music to podcasts to audiobooks that you can get in while driving, working out or even folding laundry. 

I remember the first time I considered reading a personal development book “for fun.” I remember rolling my eyes thinking, I don’t even read for fun, let alone for “development.” Mom of three and running two part time businesses! No way Jose. So, I decided to listen to those books instead. I did that while driving the 11 hour drive to see my parents and I did it while setting up for workouts. I did it while doing dishes and I did it while folding laundry. As you might have guessed, I got pretty addicted. It was pretty incredible. It required me to think and question things I’d had on autopilot. It was a way better use of my time than many of the other things I’d been doing or listening to. It set me up to be a better mom, wife, coach and simply a better human. It certainly built the brain muscle.

Then there are these things that usually come in rectangular shapes and are stuffed with rectangular pieces of paper that have lines of ink printed across them. Books! I say that in a funny way because as adulting sets in, reading can be one of the first things to go. And yet, reading is by far one of the oldest and best ways to exercise your brain. After doing the mental work to improve myself and my brain, I suddenly found space in my life to read again. Which was great because while listening is good, reading has that awesome textile element. I like feeling the pages. It also forces you to indulge in some you time, and it probably has to be quiet. Which brings me to my next point.

Click here to download my free mental gym workout planner!

Make it a point to be quiet sometimes. Personally, I have to get up really early in the morning or go to the library to get that around here. I do that because getting quiet, specifically praying and meditating are habits both the most successful and the the most happy people have in common. If you consider Grammys to be a measure of success, then you’d consider Carrie Underwood a success.34 If you consider Superbowls to be a measure of success, then you’d consider Tom Brady successful.35 If you consider wealth to be a measure of success, then you’d consider Mark Zuckerberg to be successful.36 If you consider Oprah successful, then you’re human.37 They’ve all spoken about their daily habits of praying and/or meditating. It’s not a coincidence.

Scientists have an entire field called neurotheology that looks into the changes in our brains when we pray and meditate. And they’ve made a lot of cool findings like increased dopamine and serotonin levels (happy hormones!).38 BUT! They’ve also found that these can develop into permanent changes in your brain.39 Guys! That’s a mental workout, and those changes are the muscles you’re proud to show off now! Moreover, we know that prayer elicits the opposite of the stress response called the relaxation response.40 Most of us have way too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

Thinking it’s a good idea is one thing, doing it is another. Personally, I like to begin the day with time at the mental gym. I like to start the day with prayer and silence for as long as possible. That’s why I get up at 4:30 or 5 am sometimes! Beginning your day quiet, with gratitude and intention is a game changer. Likewise, meditation is simply taking the time to calm your mind and become inwardly focussed. That’s huge in today’s crazy, chaotic, rushed and zoned out world. To change the mindset, to truly change the way we think and believe and speak and see ourselves, we have to work for it. You have to work to get your mind right.

Put Your Big Girl Panties On!

At last! I can say that Put Your Big Girl Panties On is published! Hooray!

What’s it all about?

PUT YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES ON IS A SELF-DO BOOK FOR WOMEN WHO ARE READY TO BE THEIR BEST SELVES BUT HAVEN’T QUITE FIGURED OUT HOW YET. Does it seem like adulting as a woman should’ve come with a training manual? Well, now you’ve got one. In this down-to-earth and funny how-to guide, coach Shana will let you know you’re not alone, help you feel understood and give you some practical tips on how to move forward in the areas of life that are holding you back like:

  • Anxiety
  • Negative self-talk
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Time management
  • Home organization
  • Personal finance
  • Motherhood
  • Marriage
  • and much more!

Put Your Big Girl Panties on will give you applicable questions, exercises, and advice from someone just like you. It will feel like a conversation at a coffee shop, filled with knowing glances and giggles. It will give you a safe space to feel the things you’re feeling while also coaching you ever closer to a better version of you. You see, one thing is absolutely 100% true. No one else is going to come along and magically save you. You are the hero of your own story. You are the one that is going to make your best life possible. You are going to show up for yourself, you are going to solve your own problems. And you’re going to feel really confident and satisfied when you do. You’re going to save yourself. Let’s go.

Put your big girl panties on

Happy Donut Day (not)

When you have an urge to eat something that’s not “on plan” it’s really hard to resist that urge.

Yes, that urge for cupcakes, for chips, for pizza is STRONG. Resisting it seems impossible. The good news & the bad news is that there are reasons. So, when you see the donut dopamine floods your brain. Dopamine is the hormone released when you anticipate a reward. You anticipate the sweet, sugary, soft goodness of that donut.

The tricky thing with dopamine is that it’s stupid. Well, it’s not smart at least. It thinks the reward is sustenance since that’s what your brain is programmed for. So, from dopamine’s POV, that donut is full of life-sustaining calories that taste way too good to be true.

But you know better, don’t you? You know that as soon as you eat one (or two) donuts you probably don’t feel very rewarded at all. Maybe you’re immune to what that much sugar and flour does to your system, that’s possible. Hint: it’s not good. More than that, if you’re on a plan to improve your health, you probably feel regret. You don’t feel rewarded, you feel like somehow you punished yourself. You see, the dopamine and donuts lie!

But wait, there’re more. It’s also highly likely that you’ve got some sugar-craving microbes in your gut. They’re in there like a bed of Ursula’s garden, begging you for more, more, more sugar. (or flour or other unhealthy crap.)

That’s because that’s what they thrive on. Somewhere down there, swimming around like a pretty little mermaid are the good microbes that want you to eat some vegetables. But she might be outnumbered by the sugar-lovers.

Okay. So what we know is your brain and your body are working against you. I get it. It’s harsh. What’s really cool, though, is how quickly you can overcome!

Take another look at those poor, unfortunate souls. That is also how I see your urges for the crap you (and me, let’s be honest) think you want but don’t really want. This is how they look just as soon as you overcome them. Yes, as soon as you acknowledge and overcome an urge, it shrinks. It loses power. If you do it more than once, they get super shrinky.

Why?

The first time you don’t get the “reward” after dopamine, the process starts to breakdown. Likewise, when you stop feeding those sugar/flour-loving microbes, they start to die out. Well, truthfully, I think they start to cry out first. But, if you can overcome those urges, then they start to die out.

So, overcoming urges like….three times in a row is super powerful. All of the sudden you’ll find it’s a little bit easier. As long as you don’t continue to reward the bad urges, it will continue to get easier NOT harder. Crazy, right?

Back to the beginning—this is why it’s important to have a plan. You can’t get to a destination without directions and you can’t get to your goal without a plan. Unlike other coaches, I’m not a huge believer that one plan fits all or that your plan has to be super strict. The only two criterion I have for your plan is that:

  • You have one.
  • It’s working.

You’ll know if it’s working if you’re getting closer to your goal. If not, we’ll work together to tweak it a bit. We will also work together to figure out how you can get over those first few urges so you can have a fighting chance!

So, knowing is always half the battle. I want you to start to picture your annoying little urges like these worms. Understand that they cry out but you can overcome. Understand that their promises of reward are lies. Understand that just a little overcoming can go a long way!

Real Self Care

Self care is often proselytized about as bubble baths and manicures. Those definitions work to a certain extent. Really, though, self care is taking care of yourself. The deep work of self care is taking care of yourself by doing the things that you fight resistance about.

Between you and any goal or ideal version of yourself you want to achieve you will find resistance. If all of our depression, anxiety, debt, clutter, obesity and addictions are any sign, we are all battling resistance.

When we overcome resistance, it’s a deep form of self care.

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight but you can’t get yourself to workout. That’s resistance. That’s not taking care of yourself. That’s not honoring your commitment to yourself and the version of you you’re striving to become. Taking care of yourself, self care, means doing that workout.

Maybe you want to want to get out of debt but you find yourself struggling to sit down and create a budget. That’s resistance. You might go take a bubble bath to avoid the budget, but that’s not self care. Self care is showing up for yourself. Doing what you need to do. ANYWAY. Regardless of the resistance.

In fact, use resistance to guide you on self care. If you find yourself resisting going to apologize to your spouse, recognize why. Improving your relationship is actually taking care of yourself. Allowing negative emotion and habits to win isn’t. Right? If you find yourself avoiding the gym or avoiding creating a meal plan or avoiding organizing a closet, recognize the resistance. Then take care of yourself.

Which way are you heading?

I am so pumped! Today I purchased a ticket for a business conference I’ve been wanting to go to for some time now. I was so excited! It made me think back to the other times I’ve invested in ME.

Every. Single. Time. I’ve. Invested. In. Myself. It’s. Been. Worth. It.

Examples are a really healthy shake, high quality running shoes, coaching, a $500 running stroller, books, an expensive planner/journal, FPU, conferences, trainings and certifications.

Each time I’ve done these things it’s been a wee bit like:

I don’t know. Do I really need it? Do I really want to spend the money?

There’s been trepidation. However, looking back I know it was 100% worth it each time. It was like telling myself:

Girl, you’re worth it. I believe in you and the reason you want to buy it. I know you can do it and I’m willing to BET MONEY on it.

I’m not saying I had that thought specifically, but I certainly felt that feeling. That feeling of showing up and believing in yourself. It doesn’t matter how much other people believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself, right?

Each of these things I’ve invested in was like a stepping stone to my best self.

I want you to imagine your best self. What’s she like? I bet she’s happy, glowing, carefree. She glows, she loves life. She wakes up excited and goes to bed satisfied. She has healthy, loving relationships and she has a daily routine that she enjoys. Her home is in order, her money is not stressing her out, she’s proud of her fitness and she’s healthy. You know that girl? She’s awesome.

The stepping stones to that girl are investments like the ones I mentioned above, though they’ll be unique to you.

Now, there’s also a shadow version of you. Your shadow self. She’s the person who, rather than investing in herself, keeps herself too busy and too numb to make any decisions that get her closer to ideal. She’s burdened with overwhelm, unhappiness, unrest. She eats, drinks, Facebooks and binge watches shows to keep hidden. While your best self is hopping up stones toward her best self, this is a downward journey.

So, which way are you headed?

I hope it’s up. I hope you’ll take a minute to answer this question:

What is the next best thing I need to do to get closer to my ideal self?

That’s a simple question. And notice next best = small. Don’t let overwhelm win. Maybe it’s a walk. Maybe it’s that book you’ve been eyeballing (Or my book, coming out next month ;)). Maybe it’s a decent workout outfit so you feel confident. Maybe it’s a healthy vitamin-filled Shake. MAYBE it’s coaching with me to help you figure it out.

Either way, onward and upward friend. Cheers!

 

Spring cleaning your schedule

Just like your home, your schedule might be in need of some deep cleaning.

You might have somethings that are growing cobwebs or collecting dust. You might have some things that need to be thrown out in the trash. There might even be something exciting you can add in like a fresh bouquet of flowers.

Either way, it’s time to take a look. Start by downloading my schedule template.

Then, consider your time like money on a financial budget. Just like with money, it can often feel like we’re constantly running out of time.

Borrowing (pun intended) the idea of a financial budget to plan our time is a good tool to regain control. This exercise requires you to do a brain dump on a plain piece of paper or the template above. On that paper dump out how you spend your time. All day long. Get specific. Get detailed. Just like you would by going down to the penny on a financial budget.

Once you’re done, you’ll very clearly see right in front of you how you’re spending your precious resource. Getting everything down on paper can really open your eyes. Where is all of your time going? More importantly, though, now you can reallocate. You can move things around. Are there areas you’d rather redirect your resources?

Financial expert Dave Ramsey advocates that we tell our money where to go rather than wondering where it went. He says you should give every dollar a job, tell it what to do. In this instance, we’re going to tell our time where it gets spent rather than frantically rushing around all day only to end up in bed at night wondering where all the time went and why nothing got done. We’re going to tell our hours where to go.

Best wishes!

It’s going to take time.

Happy Friday! I hope you crushed it this week! And even if you didn’t, I know you can find at least one victory that you can be proud of!

I want to talk to you about the goals and resolutions you set for yourself this year. Each person reading this is at a different point in achieving those goals. Some of you are making progress and you’re motivated by the results you’re seeing. Some of you might be feeling discouraged because you’re not still making progress or maybe you’ve almost given up.

Today, I want you to renew your mind. I want you to commit to the idea that it’s going to take time to reach your goal. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take failing. It’s going to take a little frustration. But mostly, it’s going to take time.

Commit to the time it’s going to take to achieve your goal. Why? Because you need that time in order to become who you need to become to be that person.

Imagine a kid who turns 16 and gets their driver’s license without any training or testing. What happens when they go out on the road? It ain’t pretty.

What they actually needed was that six months or a year to really train, to take the time it requires to become a driver. They needed to become a person who checks their blind spot, who knows how to brake slowly, who knows how to yield. They even needed a few close calls to become the person who can react quickly and handle the pressure of a split second decision.

And so it is with your goals. Where you’re going is really about who you are becoming in the process. If you got to the end goal without the process, you wouldn’t know how to act or be once you got there! And what does that mean? It means you’d lose your license pretty quickly.

So if you’re becoming a person who lost 50 pounds, you have to commit to the time and work it will take to get there. You already know it’s not going to happen instantly. So, use the time to commit to learning about your relationship with food and learning about fueling yourself. You need the time to learn how 50-pounds lighter you is going to act in stressful times. You need the time to learn how 50-pounds lighter you is going to get to the gym on the days she doesn’t feel like it. In this way, when you get there, you’re ready to stay there! But those things are teeny tiny little details.

If you’re becoming a person who is debt free, you have to commit to the time and work it will take to get there. It’s not going to happen overnight. Commit to the time it’s going to take for you to learn to manage your finances. Afterall, a financially free person has to know how to stay that way. You need the time to learn how you find fulfilment in non-material things. You need the time to learn how financially-free you is going to be patient and budget for priorities rather than pay for them on credit. It takes time, but you need that time to grow into the person you’re going to be!

Finally, if you’re becoming a happily married person, you need to commit to the time and work it will take to get there. Imagine that in a year, you’re living a different life where you and your spouse totally enjoy each other’s company. You laugh, you play, you dream together. You need that entire year to collect the skills it takes to push through frustration, anger, hurt, stress and all the other things you’re going to face. You need the time to learn how the happy you behaves, responds and reacts. You need that time to figure out how the happily-married version of you communicates and relates to your spouse.

So, today, make the commitment. It’s going to take time. But you need that time. You have that time. It’s going to be totally worth it!

Happy Friday!

 

If you need a coach to help you achieve your goals, let’s work together. Fill out this contact form and we can schedule a free consultation!

Are you distracting yourself with pleasure?

Yesterday I was listening to Storybrand by Donald Miller while doing some tedious spreadsheet work for business.  A quote he mentioned was so good it stopped me in my tracks and I wrote in my open planner next to my laptop.

“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”

-Viktor Frankl

Isn’t that good? Because I’m a life coach, my mind immediately began spinning.

We overeat to distract ourselves from the truth that we’re not living a life we fill has meaning or purpose. We overdrink to distract ourselves from the truth that we’re not living a life we fill has meaning or purpose. We over NETFLIX to distract ourselves from the truth that we’re not living a life we fill has meaning or purpose.

Now, I’ve mostly figured this out because my behaviour typically looks like this these days:

  • Clean home, hug kids, work, fulfilled, fun.
  • OMG I am starving, I am SO HUNGRY. Must eat!
  • Eat something healthy but delicious.

However my life used to look like this:

  • I am so bored. Being a SAHM is dumb. Nobody respects me.
  • At least I have mashed potatoes.
  • Yummmmm.

Here’s another example:

  • Sigh. Another day, all I did was wipe buts and clean up.
  • I’ll reward (distract) myself with Beer & Netflix.

That’s really simplifying it, but that usually makes a concept easier for me to understand. Because the plight of the SAHM has been beating me over the head for quite some time now, I took it in that context. When we seek these pleasures it’s not necessarily just because we have bad habits, we’re addicted to sugar and so forth. Perhaps it has more to do with being unfulfilled, with not being connected to our meaning or our purpose.

What happened, slowly, for me was that I really studied and worked on how important the SAHM role was. How every little thing I did made a difference and was important. I stopped looking externally for that validation, but started tracking it inside and with ,y creator.

For example, I started thinking that having a clean and organized home meant not only me but also my family could relax, feel at peace.  I realized I was one of the most important factors in the well being of my family. By doing those things I considered mundane, I made our lives less stressful. There were less fights and less anxiety.

Likewise, I started to really wrap my mind around the fact that I was my son’s very best teacher. That I was uniquely qualified to bring him up and make him a really awesome human.

Really tuning into my purpose, especially in that season, lessened the need to distract myself. I could be proud and tuned in to what was going on.

Now, on the flip side I’ve also worked, gone to school and such. So, we can definitely take this concept there as well. If you are dialed into the day to day meaning and purpose of your life, I bet you won’t need to distract yourself with pleasures so much. If you’re doing work you feel called to do, you’re dialed in. If you’re doing work that you don’t feel called to do, you can dial into the fact that you’re providing for you and your family. That’s huge. And it can help you.

Let’s look at another example. I coach folks in the financial realm as well. This quote we’re studying applies here as well. You see, if we are not tuned into the meaning and purpose of being debt free, it will be super easy to distract ourselves with Amazon, TJ Maxx and going out to eat. However, if you are super tuned into the purpose of living financially free, of the feeling that gives you, the options it gives your family, the stress it takes away from your marriage…boy oh boy, you’ll find it much easier not to be distracted.

That’s all for today. I want you to think about the distractions in your life. Remember, pleasure in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s ALLOWED! However, pleasure that comes at the expense of our best selves, our purpose and our ideal life is the kind of distraction we don’t need. So, think about your distractions. Think about your meaning, your purpose. How can you tune in?

 

One Habit To Rule Them All

In his latest sermon series on habits, Pastor Craig Groeschel talks about flossing (as in oral hygiene, not dancing). According to him, it’s the main discipline he set into place years ago that has had the biggest domino effect on other disciplines in his life. In the beginning, it gave him the confidence that he could be disciplined. Now, when he flosses, it’s a physical reminder that he is a disciplined person. That prompts the mindset that he needs to get all the other important things done. Being a Lord of the Rings fan, I think of that one domino effect habit as the “One Habit to Rule Them All.”

I’ve been thinking about that concept for myself since hearing it. Personally, I follow most of Pastor Groeschel’s discipline advice, possibly a little too literally. I also pray and journal and read books and say affirmations and all the things he recommends. So, in my own case, I was wondering what thing I do is my one habit to rule them all.

At first I thought it was running. If I run, I help my fitness and I help clear my mind. It helps me be a better mom, a better wife, a better business person and just a better human. It’s a pretty good one.

Then I thought it was starting my day with prayer time. It sets my mind right, it affects every part of my life, it grows my faith. You know, all the good things.

Then today I finally returned to the habit of getting up at 5. I’ve been getting up at 5:30 or even 6! I know that made some folks roll their eyes. That’s fine, it’s as normal to me as people who stay up to 11 each night! As I was saying…

Getting up at 5 actually makes a big difference in my life. Because I got up at 5 this morning I was able to:

  • Get dressed for fitness after my 9:30 meeting!
  • Read the bible
  • Pray
  • Have a few moments with warm water and candy crush
  • Write
  • Plan my big 3 of the day
  • Have breakfast with my husband
  • Clean the kitchen, vacuum and put away laundry
  • Get dinner prepped (rice for their stir fry is already ready y’all! WHAT!?)
  • Gently welcome my kids as they rolled into the morning (rather than react and rush!)

It’s almost 8 and all of my priorities in life have been addressed! That’s actually the habit that sets everything else in motion. Life a set of dominoes tipped off, everything else pretty much goes the way I need it to if I make that habit a priority.

So, what’s your one habit to rule them all? What is the one that sets off your domino effect for your ideal day?

Sunday planning for FITNESS!

Hello All!

I want to give you a free tool to help you plan to have a FABULOUSLY FIT week! It’s my Sunday Planning sheet that focuses on your fitness journey.

Get the printable Sunday Planner here!

First, celebrate your wins!! Noticing where you won is important for many reasons. You need to encourage yourself first of all! Give yourself a pat on the back. It might also give you clues on how to have EVEN more success. What worked? Why?

Next, I like to really think about what the focus is before you head into the week. Sure, weight loss might be the overall goal, but you might want to specifically focus on not snacking at night or on going from 3 workouts as week to 4. Get the idea? It’s best to set the intention Sunday so your brain knows what to remember and auto-correct for during the week.

I also like to have a mantra for the week. A little saying I’ll be saying to myself all week to help me accomplish what I want to accomplish. So it might be, “Be stronger than your excuses” or “You’re not a dog, don’t reward yourself with food.” You get the gist. Something I can play on repeat over and over in my brain.

screen shot 2019-01-06 at 4.19.22 pm

Planning self-care is important because anytime you’re stretching yourself, you need to create space for you to do things that re-energize you. If you don’t, you’ll burn out and give up much more quickly. I also know if we don’t plan it, it won’t happen. So, here I might put some time I plan to go do something I want to do or a day I’ll sleep in.

Then we move on to planning the workouts. Hopefully you’re following a plan (I can’t help you if you don’t have one, just fill out the form below) but if you’re not, write out a plan here. Whether it’s just when you’re going for walks or runs or what muscle group you’re working, it’s a good thing to do at the beginning of the week. Just like with your menu the next block over, it will save your brain from decisions during the hectic week.

Finally, we plan what we’re going to eat each day. While you’re creating your menu, write down anything you need to grab at the store.

Voila! You’ve done it. Doesn’t that feel great?

If you need help with any of this, I’m your coach! We can schedule a free mini session and go from there! ❤