Gratitude is Good for the Heart… Actual Science!

26 Nov


The Institution of Heart Math (IHM) states that, “true feelings of gratitude, appreciation and other positive emotions can synchronize brain and heart rhythms, creating a bodywide shift to a scientifically measurable state called coherence. In this optimal state, the body’s systems function more efficiently, generating a greater balance of emotions and increased mental clarity and brain function.” This means that gratitude has a physiological and psychological benefit for your body!!

In working with many people on trying to create heart rate coherence, I have found that bringing up feelings of gratitude creates the most calm/synchronized heart rate. People have tried many other positive emotions/thought processes but gratitude, the majority of the time, is the most powerful. That is pretty amazing!!

The IHM goes on to state that gratitude effects the following:

-Creates biochemical change by 1. Improved hormonal balance and 2. Increased production of DHEA (anti-aging hormone).

-Increases positivity.

-Boosts the immune system by increasing IgA, which is the first line of defense against pathogens.


All of these benefits lead to better PHYSICAL, MENTAL, and OVERALL HEALTH! I also find people who do daily gratitude practices recover from/ prevent significant mental health issues. In addition, people find more motivation to create healthy eating and exercise habits!

Many people have  heard of gratitude journals. A little twist to this can go a long way and make it more meaningful. I like to invite people to list one thing each day they are grateful for and then note a few sentences of why that thing that you are grateful for happened to you. Now, this takes some imagination at times but play with it. If you stay consistent with this for a few weeks you will likely have new outlooks and other positive changes!

For example, today I am grateful that I woke up and my whole family was together. This happened to me because Shayna continues to love me and forgive me for my shortcomings. This happened to me because I’ve been entrusted as a parent to crazy but wonderful kiddos. I have been blessed with a career that allows me to provide for my family and have a heater in the home!

Thank you all for your influence in my life!


How to Start Exercising When Nothing Feels Good?

24 Nov

Find Your Movement!

It could be that you have dealt with weight issues for a long time, you just had a baby this year, or your health has just turned south… either way getting back into exercise  can be a challenge. Let me help!

First, be easy on yourself. I am talking about being compassionate with yourself. Self-compassion is more important than self-esteem. In other words, its okay to recognize in a non-harsh manner that it hurts to exercise right now and that you might not be perfect. “Insanity,” “P-90X,” and/or running many miles each day might not be the most effective way to start. Instead, be kind to yourself know that small steps will absolutely lead to big improvements. You will not get the “runner high” yet and that’s ok. If you don’t slowly warm up your body to the idea of consistent exercise you will inevitably fail and hurt yourself both physically and psychologically. So, recognize that your physical weaknesses are nothing more than challenges. Blaming yourself for where you are at right now does you no good. Instead, I want you recognize where you are and accept that you can take one step forward today. Be okay with decimal change each day!
Second, focus on the short-term benefits. Going to the scale every day, waiting for pant size to decrease, or watching your belly shrink can be discouraging to wait for. Yes, you want the long-term reasons for exercise to be on your mind but you need to have short-term reasons for getting out there and moving! Think about what you notice when your are done with exercise. Do you feel more clear thinking? Do you feel grateful that you feel exhausted? After all, that exhaustion is temporary and turns into more energy. If you are someone who likes to check things off on a list then put it on a list and feel good checking it off. Or, are you just stressed and had a bad day? Then go sweat it out and release the stress. Maybe you want to write a blog post or share on social media?
In working with hundreds of people in this situation I have also found that part of short-term motivation has to do with finding the right exercise. In fact, it may not even need to be referred to as “exercise.” People seem to respond best when we call it “movement.” Find your movement that works for you! You don’t have to go to the gym. You can do what you want. It can be as simple as starting with every time someone asks you to meet for coffee or lunch you can respond with let’s meet for a walk. Find your movement… find what you like to do not just what you have to do!
Third, get others involved. Don’t go it alone! I once knew someone who started their workout by walking down the street to check on a neighbor friend who was in bad health. Then this person progressed to walking around the block before getting to the friends house. Then it elevated to more and more! You can also get people involved by sharing your plans and sharing your successes.
Fourth, recognize that exercise/movement is not only done in a gym. Sure, I love to run outside and on trails. I also love to climb trees. Nothing makes me feel more like a kid than climbing a tree. Setting a 30-minute timer and getting up and down as much as I can is a great way for movement… I love it! But just because that works for me doesn’t mean it works for you. Find your movement!
Fifth and last (for today), put it on a calendar. We put the important events on the calendar. Well, you are important… so put yourself on your calendar. Be easy on yourself. I have seen so many people try to be hard on themselves and punish themselves in the weight loss process and they all fail. I want you to accept where you are but not accept remaining there. Where you are today is a launch pad for where you’ll be tomorrow.
Find your movement!

Is Education Neglecting True Needs?

23 Nov


I enjoy taking my kiddos out of school many days throughout the year. For example, we like to take them out of school on Fridays and/or family vacations. These times out of school do NOT involve sitting around playing video/computer games and sitting indoors. Instead, time is spent building family relationships, visiting extended family, going to historic places, and just being a kid running free! Does this make me a bad parent? Should you report me to DCFS? I would say… NO! On the other hand, does this mean that I think teachers are bad? I would say… No! However, I do think our children from grade school and especially into high school are being demanded of way too much of in the wrong area.

I work professionally with teenagers and I notice how much they are hating the learning process by the time they graduate. Sure, its normal not to care too much about school by senior year, but I am seeing something worse. I am seeing kids  burnt out and becoming clinically depressed/anxious due to overwhelming pressure placed on grades. I am seeing kids distraught if they don’t have loads of college credits by the time the graduate high school. Why in the world do they need that college credit? After all, they will not be ready to enter the career field if they graduate college early at age 20. Pressure is coming from all angles towards these children. Overworked parents are demanding perfect grades and large course loads. Families seem to be okay with missing family dinner time because the kid has 3 hours of “busy work” homework to do. Kids can work hard… I see them bust their tails all the time. But what I see as the major problem with kids over the past years is they are not getting two major things: 1.not enough time with family  2. not enough time to create.

A couple months ago my kids got to leave school for 7 days and take a cross-country road trip to visit my brother and his lovely family in Ohio. There was no structure to this trip. The kids played outside with their cousins for hours everyday. My daughter learned how to sew by hand and made some of the coolest things. She did this while developing a loving and fun relationship with her aunt. My boys read books for fun and improved social skills while being with their cousins and even learned some farming skills. After all, the young years are not about what you learn academically, rather it is about developing social/emotional intelligence. Upon returning back home, my children were so excited to be back at school. They got caught up with all their assignments in a few days and were not set back with school work. The kids seemed to have a extra portion of excitement for learning.
School is taken too seriously… that’s the bottom line. Yes, I have a doctorate degree. Yes, I read multiple books a week. Yes, I would love to earn another doctorate degree. The thing is though, I don’t do it for anyone else. I’ve never learned for a professor. I’ve never learned for anything other than the sake of the burning desire in me to learn. What’s the secret to breed that desire to learn?
  1. Don’t put so much pressure on grades.
  2. Engage kids in creative activities outside of school
  3. Spend time as a family with children
  4. Take family field trips
I want to share a little more about not putting pressure on grades. Just because you stop hounding them about grades does not mean they will have poor grades. In high school I stopped caring about my grades and began caring about learning what I wanted to learn. Did I do busy work? Absolutely not! Learning was my focus. Kids need to learn to do uncomfortable things but that doesn’t mean they need to waste time doing busy work. Kids need to learn to think and create. Teachers do seem to want to actually teach kids. Any teacher I have spoken to wants to teach kids… its the policies and funding and crap that imposes all these curriculums that gives teachers no wiggle room. I hope this can change.
I want to reiterate that I fully support our teachers! It seems that funding, standardized tests, and so on override the flexibility teachers need to be able to teach in the best way. Thus, I believe its imperative that we as parents are involved in the education process. Sitting in school isn’t the only manner through which education happens. Get out, play hard, learn a lot!

Video: Behavior Preceeds Motivation – Part 2

3 Sep

Part 2 of our discussion on how behavior preceeds motivation…

We need to not worry so much about the BIG outcomes but focus on the decimal changes we can make.

Here’s an example at looking at decimal changes and how doing this can produce big results:

Did you miss Part 1 of this series?  Check it out here!

Stop Using the Scale to Measure Health!

30 Aug


Throw Out the Scale!!!

Why does your weight matter? I wish there was a viable answer to this question. Body weight is a simple way to measure … WAIT- what does our bodyweight actually tell us? Um, it tells you your body weight! It doesn’t signify healthy living. Health is about waking up feeling like obstacles are able to be overcame and experiencing tranquility, energy, and vitality.
I have met many people who weigh much less than the person standing next to them and are extremely unhealthy. Sure, potentially there is a positive correlation between lighter weight and health but that is not as strong of a correlation as one might think. After all, thin doesn’t mean healthy. In fact, the American Medical Association states that 1 in 4 skinny people are pre-diabetic.
Am I saying skinny is bad? No. I’m sharing that weight can be misleading. Am I saying to never weigh yourself again? Not necessarily, but I would ask you to what end are you weighing yourself? When we get away from the scale and less obsessed with a number telling us how healthy we are then we are less absorbed with our body image and more focused on what we can make with our time in this life!
10 Ways to Measure Health!
  1. First and foremost- ENERGY! Notice if your energy levels are steady and continuous throughout the day without the need of stimulants.
  2. Pay attention to increased exercise/movement ability. After all, a healthy lifestyle is often about being able to move as desired!
  3. Increased confidence related to how you feel in your own body! YOU know how you feel and you cannot compare that to others.
  4. Clearer skin and brighter eyes. So many times when people are becoming more healthy I can see a “glow” about them. This glow is literal!
  5. Less bloating, gas, heartburn, and headaches!
  6. Less to NO medications! Yes, you can overcome the use of most medications through a healthy lifestyle. Now, let’s be realistic that some medications are not able to be stopped. Work with your health care professional before stopping any meds.
  7. Your mood is better. Just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re happy; however, a healthy lifestyle can lead to more happiness and less irritability.
  8. Improved self-esteem/ confidence. Taking back control of your health is empowering!
  9. Focus and attention are wonderful positive consequences that will occur! Before you throw yourself on some speed, try a lifestyle transformation first. Notice how you are following through on plans/goals.
  10. Social interactions are more enjoyable. I am not saying that if you are skinny you have a better social life. I am saying that the better your body feels the easier it is to be present with others in social situations.

Why I am 99% Happy With My 80% Healthy Lifestyle

14 Aug

I am about 80-90% on anything regarding nutrition. I am about 90% gluten free. I am about 80% free of fried and garbage food. I am about 85% plant based. I am about 90% consistent with my exercise routine. The great part is I am about 99% content with my healthy lifestyle!

Simply put diets are awful. More and more diets are teaching people to be 100% or they are a failure. This is probably why less than 10% of diets actually sustain positive results. As a trauma therapist I would venture to say that diets can actually be rather traumatizing for people.

In the work that I do with The Weight Loss Revolution I teach people how to accept imperfect healthy habits. For example,  I highlight the fact that from time to time you might eat some fried food. Does this mean your healthy lifestyle is over? Noooo! It means you will likely feel crummy the next day and have more resolve to stay on track. Additionally, I teach people that when indulging in a rare unhealthy/garbage meal to enjoy every bite and focus on enjoying the process. If we focus on enjoying the process your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of your central nervous system that is responsible for initiating the digestive process) will be more activated and allow your body to adequately digest food. Whereas if we eat a horrible meal and guilt ourselves the whole time our parasympathetic nervous system will not be as engaged and digestion won’t happen, which will consequently lead to storing food as fat.

Am I telling people to go eat crap and be happy and you’ll be healthy? Nope! I am simply stating that one of the many reasons why diets are harming so many people is because we are only feel accomplished with perfection. We can learn to be accepting of imperfect strides!

Video: Behavior Precedes Motivation – Part 1

13 Aug

How many times have you said or heard someone else say “I want to get going on this exercise program” or “I want to start eating better” or “I’ve got to start doing better on my goals?” But it always comes back to “But I’m just not motivated.”

We need to realize that behavior precedes the motivation. Motivation does not precede the behavior.

You need to set up your environment for success! Here’s an example on how to do that:


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