The Mind-Body SHIFT

Nourishing the Body, Feeding the Mind, Nurturing the Soul


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On Food Day, Nation Celebrates Real Food, Casts Light on Food Injustices

Real Food Day CSPICommunities all over the country will gather on or around Friday, October 24, for Food Day, an annual celebration to help draw attention to food justice issues, such as access to healthy food and the treatment of farm and food workers. This year’s theme, “Real Food, Just Food,” will be the focus of an array of events, from food festivals to film screenings.

This is the fourth year that Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)—a nonprofit advocacy group educating consumers about nutrition, food safety and other health-related issues—has coordinated Food Day. U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA5) serve as honorary co-chairs of Food Day.

“Food Day events and activities are designed to foster honest discussion, deeper knowledge and progress toward addressing critical topics in food, agriculture and nutrition — spanning the food chain from farm families to family tables,” wrote DeLauro and Harkin in a recent column for The Huffington Post.

Food Day Founder Michael Jacobson, executive director and founder of CSPI, will moderate a food justice panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Friday, from 9 a.m, to 11:30 a.m. The panel includes Food Chain Workers Alliance Associate Director Jose Oliva, Ricardo Salvador of Union of Concerned Scientists, and Community to Community Executive Director and domestic winner of the 2014 World Food Sovereignty Prize, Rosalinda Guillen, as well as Tomatoland author Barry Estabrook, who also co-produced the documentary about farm labor exploitation, Food Chains.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is inviting folks to the state house in Boston to learn about the new Massachusetts Food Systems Plan. New York City is hosting a citywide celebration called the Big Apple Crunch, where the community gathers at noon to bite into an apple. Here in Connecticut, a local YMCA is holding a 7 p.m. screening Friday of the documentary Fed Up, about the health consequences of the confusing and misleading food industry. Afterward, there will be panel discussion with a farmer, food service director, a food share representative, teen sustainable food system advocates and food system workers.

Area schools are also getting involved by leading Eat Real Challenge weeks and holding student-run farmers markets. “October is National Farm to School Month so student-run farmers’ markets and Food Day activities are a natural fit to celebrate, while helping to teach children life-long lessons about healthy food and where it comes from,” Liz Isaacs, one of the chairs of Growing Great Schools’ Farm to School committee in West Hartford, Conn. “Kids are often more likely to try fresh fruits and vegetables when they learn about where they come from and their benefits. And when we buy from farms in our community we support the local economy.”

Growing Great Schools also made the commitment last year to donate $600 at each seasonal market toward food bags to be sent home with children of families in need. By doing so, the organization aims to help provide equal access to healthy food to all children in the district.

“Food Day…reminds us that even here, in the world’s richest nation, about one in seven households suffer food insecurity, meaning that the family’s diet is impaired or limited in some way, with even higher rates in households with children,” wrote wrote DeLauro and Harkin. Healthy and fresh food choices are unfortunately not as readily available in all geographic location for all income levels, which is where the congresswoman and senator feel public policy can play a great role.

In addition to helping draw attention to the practical steps one needs to take to enhance nutrition and health, the politicians applaud the objectives of Food Day to increase access to safe and healthy food, as well as enhance opportunities for local farming communities to produce food, while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment.

“I hope people use Food Day as a time to try new things, to patronize new, local food businesses, and to support the work that so many activists and entrepreneurs are doing to improve the food environment in our communities,” Gail Simmons, Food & Wine’s special projects director and permanent judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, said in a Food Day press release. “We need the whole country to be engaged in the food movement, and Food Day is a way to help get us there.”

How You Can Get Involved

Do you want to get involved in Food Day 2014?  Food Day offers these five ways to do so:

Here are five ways you can participate from wherever you are:

1. Attend a Food Day event — Check out the Food Day national map and plug in your zip code to find details about Food Day events near you.

2. Join the #FoodDayChat Twitter Chat — 5 hours, 5 topics: Particulate in the online conversation about food justice, public health, food policy, and more, with groups like the American Public Health Association, Slow Food USA, Union of Concerned Scientists and James Beard Foundation. This online event is hosted by @FoodDay2014 at twitter.com/FoodDay2014, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 24. Follow and use hashtag #FoodDayChat to participate.

3. Thunderclap – Register your social media account for the #FoodDay2014 Thunderclap to add your voice to support real and just food for all.  The more people who sign up, the bigger the impact we can make!

4. Food Literacy Quiz —  Share the Food Day Food Literacy Quiz and encourage your network to take it on Food Day.

5. #FoodDayPlate — Participate in the #FoodDayPlate contest on social media by sharing a photo of your healthy or sustainable meal on Food Day! Use hashtag #FoodDayPlate to participate.


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Sleeping, Partying and Driving Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Estroven Sleep Pink

Sleep Pink Robe from Estroven

It’s hard to escape the pink during October’s breast cancer awareness month, and that seems to be true for me here at The Mind-Body Shift as well. I’m proud to join Estroven and don their pink robe for the Sleep Pink movement, helping to raise awareness and funds for the Avon Foundation for Women.

This is the third year that Estroven—a dietary supplement for menopause relief distributed by i-Health, Inc., here in Cromwell, Conn.—has partnered with Avon to challenge folks to host pink pajama parties or share their pink PJ selfies across social media. With each party photo submitted to SleepPink.com, Estroven pledges $250 to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and $100 for every individual selfie of you in your pink pajamas.

“Sleep Pink supports women who are going through difficult times and similar changes during this transformative stage in life and invites them to come together to galvanize support for one another in the fight against breast cancer,” says April Mills, Marketing Director at i-Health, maker of Estroven. “We’re excited to once again see how this program becomes a forum of encouragement for those affected by the disease and celebration for the day that we will see it eradicated.”

An estimated 232,670 women will be newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the United States in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. There are currently more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the country. While this sounds like a lot—and it is—the good news is that after more than 20 years of increases in the incidence rates for female breast cancer, the rates have been dropping since the year 2000. The decrease likely due to the results from the Women’s Health Initiative, published in 2002, which linked hormone therapy after menopause to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart diseases.

Estroven is a leading dietary supplement for managing the symptoms of menopause. It has made limited edition Sleep Pink packaging for retail stores nationwide, along with Sleep Pink retail displays at select Walmart stores.

Tadasana for Breast Cancer

Sleep Pink PJ Selfie

Sleep Pink also has some great ideas for how you can host a fun and inspiring pink pajama party of your own and help raise more funds for Avon. Get party planning tips and recipes on www.SleepPink.com.

I invite all my readers to join the Sleep Pink Movement with me in one of two ways:

  • Throw a Sleep Pink party and upload your photo on SleepPink.com to raise $250
  • Take a selfie in pink pajamas and upload it to SleepPink.com to raise $100

***Thanks so much to Estroven Sleep Pink for the cute pink robe!

Waze Goes Pink For Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Along the same theme, the community-based traffic and navigation app Waze is sporting pink ribbons to mark local breast screening centers at locations in the United States. Just enter the word “Pink” into the search engine, and Waze will help you find a pink ribbon facility in your area.

Breast Screening Location in CT

Waze creates local driving communities by encouraging user to share information along their routes about local traffic, road hazards, police presence and accident reports. A community member OrbitC came up with the suggestion that sparked the idea for the pink ribbon campaign.

I naturally had to test the app out of for myself for pink ribbon locations in the area. I found one less than 15 miles from my home and a few more not too far a drive away.

Breast Screening Location on Waze

Women's Imaging of Buckland Hills at Open MRI

Women’s Imaging of Buckland Hills at Open MRI

It appears that nearby states might have either more community engagement or just better labeling of breast screening locations.

Waze Pink Search

Either way, I think the pink ribbon locations are great visual reminders for those of us who are more prone to forget our yearly screenings.

Visit Waze online at www.waze.com/


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Impromptu Poetry: Threading the Needle

“Threading The Needle” by Renée Canada

Thread the Needle Pose

©2014 Renée Canada

I thread the needle
Through tight angles
And strained filaments.
I look out and through the space
That grows and slows with breath
And settles from stillness to peace.
The battle to control the resistance
Overcome by love and acceptance
Of my limitations and imperfections.


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When the Threat of Ebola Hits Home: What You Really Need to Know

Transmission of EbolaMy home state of Connecticut seemingly had a close brush with the Ebola virus when Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven confirmed today that it was treating a quarantined Yale University grad student who was displaying Ebola-like symptoms. The man, recently back from Liberia, had been admitted to the hospital yesterday after developing a fever. It was just reported, however, that the patient’s samples tested negative for the disease, but it’s a perfect time to bring more awareness to this devastating illness.

Yale Patient Displays Ebola-Like Symptoms

The patient was one of three Yale University PhD. researchers who aided the Liberian Ministry of Health on computer systems to monitor the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. The students returned home Oct. 11. The patient and another student tested negative for Ebola in Liberia, but both voluntarily isolated themselves upon their return to the United States.

This new, particularly lethal strain of Ebola began emerging in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in early 2014 and is considered the largest in history. One in two people who have gotten Ebola in this outbreak have died, according to the CDC. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has identified more than 8000 cases and 3800 deaths since March. Only 14 have been treated for Ebola outside West Africa.

When to Seek Help for Symptoms of Ebola

After developing a fever Wednesday, the Yale patient wisely contacted their primary care physician who monitored symptoms and helped to arrange the hospital transport with high precautionary measures. Anyone who has recently traveled in Western Africa and/or who has been in contact with someone with Ebola and is displaying Ebola-like symptoms should contact a health professional and be assessed for symptoms. All who have come in contact with the virus should be identified and isolated from other patients. They should also help identify who else might have had contact with the infection. Direct contact with a deceased Ebola patient should be avoided.

“But if you haven’t come from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, then you are likely to have just the regular flu,” New Haven City Mayor Tony Harp said in a press conference this afternoon, highlighting the fact that many people with similar symptoms were calling in concerned about their risk of Ebola. “I think it’s really important for people to remember that we are in flu season “

Symptoms of Ebola

Ebola Symptom ProgressionEarly symptoms of the Ebola virus, formally known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, tend to be non-specific, mimicking other health conditions like the flu. A patient often first experiences fever, fatigue, headache and muscle soreness for a couple days. The patient may shortly develop stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as unexplained bruising.

In more than half of Ebola cases, the infection dramatically advances, causing hemorrhage, bleeding under the skin and from the nose, mouth, eyes and anus. If Ebola proves fatal in a patient, he or she typically begins to leak fluid from blood vessels deep in the body, causing a dramatic drop in pressure that leads to organ failure.

These symptoms start presenting between 2 and 21 days after becoming infected. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms after 21 days, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states he or she will not become sick with Ebola.

How Ebola Is and Isn’t Transmitted

Ebola is not an airborne disease. It is transmitted through direct contact with body fluids (like blood, vomit, semen and excrement) of an infected person, objects contaminated with this infected body fluids or through the fluids or infected meat of other primates with the disease. Scientists believe the host animal for Ebola is likely a bat.

If an infected person’s blood or vomit gets into another person’s eyes, nose or mouth, the virus can be transmitted. According to W.H.O., the virus can be passed through semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from the illness. A reader asked a great question about if Ebola may be transmitted through a sneeze:

Transmission of Ebola

Healthcare Workers at Risk for Contracting Ebola

In this most recent outbreak in West Africa, most new cases occur among those caring for sick relatives or preparing an infected body for burial. Healthcare workers are also at risk for contracting the virus, as it can survive on surfaces, such as latex gloves or hypodermic needles. This is especially likely if the treating medical facility is not properly equipped with or trained to use decontaminate protective gear correctly.

Two of the three confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States occurred in nurses in Texas, who were treating a man with the illness. The CDC announced the country’s first lab-confirmed diagnosis of Ebola on Sept. 30. The patient had traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas, showing no symptoms of the virus until four days after arriving in the U.S. He died of the illness on Oct. 8 and his body was cremated.

On Oct. 10, a nurse at Texas Presbyterian Hospital who treated the first, or index, patient reported early symptoms of a low-grade fever and was sent for testing. She was isolated and later was confirmed positive for Ebola. On October 14, a second nurse who cared for the index patient also reported a low-grade fever and was confirmed positive for Ebola on October 15.

The CDC confirms that the second worker flew on a Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Fort Worth Oct. 13, returning from flight 1142 in the reverse direction on Oct. 10. According to a Frontier Airlines statement, she exhibited no signs of illness on the flight and immediately upon notification from the CDC, the airline removed the aircraft from service and is working closely with CDC to identify and contact customers who traveled on flight 1143.

CDC is asking that all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143, from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13, landing at 8:16 p.m. CT, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

Contact Tracing

Stopping the Ebola Outbreak in the U.S.
The CDC sent one team to Dallas to support contact tracing of the first patient and response and as second team to train and assist the hospital in infection control and monitoring of health care workers who had contact with the index patient. The number of contacts—people who had definite exposure to an Ebola patient—has risen in this country to 11. There are an additional 107 possible contacts, including other healthcare workers.

Yale-New Haven Hospital claims to take even greater measures for infectious disease cases than those recommended by the CDC. Patients with Ebola-like symptoms are quarantined from other patients. Staff wears protective gear, such as face shields, gloves and protective suits. Hazmat suits were brought into the hospital on Wednesday to protect some of its workers.

“We feel we are well prepared to handle an event like this,” said D’Aquila. “We have been preparing for the potential of an Ebola patient for weeks, but even before that.” He said the hospital is prepped to be ready at all times with a command center structure, which includes a team that drills and rehearses to prepare for health events like this one.

Connecticut’s Gov. Dannel P. Malloy also issued Thursday afternoon a directive to every hospital in the state to perform a drill within the next week to assure that procedures and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are up to standard. He announced that the state is taking steps to strengthen the level of preparedness for the Ebola virus by enacting the quarantine and isolation protocols that were authorized under an order he signed last week.

Last week, Malloy declared a public health emergency as a precautionary measure in the event that the state has either a confirmed infection or has confirmed that someone at risk of developing the infection is residing in the state. The order gives the commissioner of the department of public health the authority to quarantine and isolate an individual or a group of individuals whom they reasonably believe has been exposed to the Ebola virus or infected with the Ebola virus.

While precautions were underway at the hospital and in the city of New Haven at the time of today’s conference, Harp said that there was no reason to believe this would turn out to be a confirmed case of Ebola—and fortunately, she was right.

Stopping the Ebola Outbreak

“[T]he report that a Yale student has exhibited symptoms demonstrates why preemptive action is the right approach.  I believe we must go above and beyond what the CDC is recommending,” Malloy said. “I want everyone to know – from the nurses in our emergency rooms to our first responders and our law enforcement personnel – we will provide whatever resources we have at our disposal so that you can do your critically important jobs safely and effectively.”

While no specific treatment is available for Ebola, health providers can do the following for patients:

  • Balance the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, such as the levels of sodium to potassium in the blood
  • Maintain their oxygen status and blood pressure
  • Treat them for any complicating infections


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Nick Cannon Talks on Thriving With Lupus and Preventing Flu with Theraflu

Nick Cannon and Theraflu Fluprint ProgramAs temperatures drop here in the northeast United States and more of us develop the sniffles, the cold and flu season is definitely on the mind of a lot of folks. Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of speaking with entertainer and fellow “lupie” Nick Cannon about the flu and his partnership with the makers of TheraFlu® and the national nonprofit organization, Families Fighting Flu. Cannon is now the spokesman for the flu awareness and prevention Theraflu® Fluprint™ program.

“It made the perfect sense because Fluprint is just five easy steps that allow everyone to get ready for flu season,” said Cannon, performer and host of NBC’s talent competition, America’s Got Talent.

Fluprint is a straightforward action plan for dealing with the flu that consists of these five steps:

  • Learn
  • Vaccinate
  • Prepare
  • Treat
  • Share

“The last step, share, is the really cool thing,” said Cannon, “because you get the opportunity to not just gather the information for yourself when you visit the Theraflu Facebook page, but you also, just by hitting the ‘Like’ button, help donate up to $100,000 to the non-profit organization Families Fighting Flu.”

For every ‘Like’, the makers of Theraflu® will donate $1, up to $100,000 total, to Families Fighting Flu. The organization helps families in need get flu-ready and will use the donation for setting up vaccination clinics, school-based programs and developing educational materials, according to Theraflu®.

You can learn more about the steps in my interview with Nick, shared above, and by visiting Theraflu on Facebook. The site also differentiates between the symptoms of flu and a cold, offers precautionary measures to help prevent getting the virus and gives tips for how to treat its symptoms once you get the flu. There is also an app to check the how the cold and flu are affecting people in your city or state.

Keeping one step ahead of the flu is especially crucial for children and immuno-compromised folks. As a father living with an autoimmune condition, Cannon stressed the importance of having an immune system in the best shape possible. He said, “And it has to be almost stronger than ever before because these conditions can make you really weak, and other medicines can kind of tear your immune system down.”

Cannon was diagnosed with lupus nephritis in 2012, and he said it changed it his life. “It made me want to turn my test into a testimony. It made me want to get out there and show people that you can get past it and work through it,” he said.

Lupus nephritis is inflammation of the kidney caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus, for short). SLE is a disorder where the immune system starts to attack the body’s own healthy cells and organs, mistakenly identifying them as potentially harmful foreign bodies. Lupus nephritis can develop when the disease begins to target the kidneys.

Flu Prevention

Src: Theraflu Fluprint

Initially the entertainer had to make a lot of changes in the way he ate after his diagnosis. He followed the renal diet for kidney disease, stopped eating processed, food and salts, and learned to pick the proper proteins and vegetables. “And now, I’m a little bit more lenient but I still try not to eat fast food and drink lots and lots of water.”

The ultra positive superstar added, “It’s only helped for the better because now I am in the best shape and stronger than ever.”

Making sure people with autoimmune disease stay as strong as possible is another reason why Cannon advocates the Theraflu® Fluprint™ program. “The community is clearly affected by what’s going on with flu season each and every year,” he said. “And because health and wellness is on everyone’s mind, there’s so many things that people are concerned about, but this is something that we can actually get in front of and control.”

The consummate professional had to host live television when he last had the flu. “You had to just keep it going. You can’t stop,” he said. “No matter what’s going on in life, you have to persevere through it.”


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5 Steps to Get Unstuck

Src: dieterpauwels.com

Src: dieterpauwels.com

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve got a million things on your plate. Your heart and your time are constantly being pulled in a dozen different directions. Sometimes it can feel like there’s no possible way to get it all done, so the incessant voices of fear and self-doubt insinuate themselves in your noggin, attempting to convince you that you cannot get any of it done. Analysis paralysis sets in, and you wind up feeling overwhelmed and emotionally and physically defeated. Taking lessons learned from my own experiences of feeling trapped in a rut, here are 5 steps to help get you unstuck.

1. Take a Break and Refill the Tank

You may be asking yourself why you need a break when you’ve been beating yourself up over the last week or two to just do something. Yet unplugging for a bit, as un-intuitive as it might seem, can be exactly what you need to recharge the battery. When you feel like you are failing to meet even your own expectations, the constant pressure you put on yourself—the mental and emotional stress, the endless hours trying to wring water from a brick—can eventually start to wear you down physically as well. Add mental depletion and physical health issues, like insomnia and fatigue, to the growing list of obstacles standing between you and getting things done. Self-care is not an excuse; at times, it is a necessity.

Change your environment. Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and ground yourself in nature. Do you have a place you’ve been before that really made you feel content and alive? It might be time to make a return trip to reenergize. Or take a day trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go to but haven’t been before and find some new inspiration.

If the world in which you find yourself has begun to feel unfamiliar and unwelcoming, retreat to where you are most comfortable. Read your favorite book or watch a beloved film that you know so well, just re-living it can make you feel safe and at-home again. Get your hands dirty and work in the garden. Fill your kitchen up with the familiar scents of fresh food that always brings you comfort.

Src: jbrains.ca

Src: jbrains.ca

If you’ve been feeling lost in the crowd, take some time to yourself to really touch base with your thoughts and feelings. Get to know your sincere wants and desires again. But if you have been spending too much time isolated and alone, seek the company of your personal cheerleaders—your family and/or friends. If they discourage or exhaust you, explore your interests further to connect you with new, like-minded people to invigorate your spirit. Reconnect with mentors who have inspired you over the years.

Changing your environment doesn’t always have to be physical. A mental change in landscape can also awaken the spirit that drives you. If you have been spending too much time in trying to reason your way out of a rut, give yourself permission to spend more time stimulating your visual and auditory senses, playing with creativity, exploring emotions and thinking outside the box. If you find yourself drowning in a pool of emotions, it might be time to start building a plan of action and breaking down a to-do list.

2. Get Specific About Action Steps

Many of us walk around with a mental to-do list of all the things we need and want to get accomplished. When you add the inevitable interruptions and detours to the mix, our brains often become a jumbled mess as we try to stay within the lines of a blurry track. It’s easy to lose our way if we ever had a true sense of direction in the first place.

To help sharpen our vision, I recommend writing down goals and plans of accomplishment. The more generic and vague we are about our to-do-the-list, the harder it is to stay the course when the going gets tough. So get specific and set a timeframe in which to accomplish each task.

A vague to do list might include find a new job or re-design my website. Great goals to have, but take some time to think about how you are going to get. With specificity, the path to accomplish things becomes much clearer.

A specific action plan might be:

  • Update resume this morning
  • Post revised resume on LinkedIn and Indeed.com this afternoon
  • Find 5 jobs to apply to and write cover letters for them tomorrow.
  • Get in touch with x, y and z by Fri. to confirm them as references, see if they have leads

or

  • Pick top 5 favorite websites in my space and analyze what I love about them today
  • Rewrite bio tomorrow
  • Refresh my HMTL with a free, online course this week
  • Create a proper landing page by next Friday

See how a general idea of what you need to get done transforms into an action plan with concrete steps you can check off as you go? Not only does it help you get clearer about what exactly needs to get done, it’s much easier to see your progress in accomplishing goals.

And remember, your list is not set in stone. You can shift dates, delete items or add in what you unintentionally left. As you are always learning and growing, your list should be regularly updated and refined to reflect that.

That said, there are those of us who find it difficult to stay accountable to a list (or simply ourselves). It can be extremely helpful having an accountability partner, someone who knows what you’re trying to achieve. If they see you slacking, they’ll call you on it. They will cheer you on while you’re staying the course and congratulate you when you reach your goals. They can also offer a fresh, outside perspective.

I recently found myself telling my accountability partner how hard it was for me to creatively write again facing my inner critic. Knowing that we shared a love of songwriting in common and that I currently have more confidence in writing lyrics, he came up with a task that we both can do. By the end of the week, we are each supposed to write lyrics that fit the song title he selected. How fun, I found myself thinking. Instead of dreading the exercise and thinking about having to crank something out, I’m looking forward to the creative challenge that is one step closer to getting back on track.

3. Prioritize Your Plan

Need to Do, Want To Do, Should DoIf you’re anything like me, your to-do list covers a lot of ground and veers in many different directions. Your many obligations and need-to-do’s are mixed in with your varied passions and want-to-do’s. As a result, it can be hard to determine what should take top priority. The line becomes especially blurry when you are one of the blessed whose work is their passion, particularly if you are a creative—a writer, visual artist or musician, for example. While your primary job is to create, create, create, there are often logistics that need to be taken care of in addition to or prior to when the creation process takes place.

Let’s say you want to create a new online fitness program. While your creative ideas for content may be bubbling up like crazy, you are also going to need to select the tools to actually bring the program to life and to set up the environment to make it a success. Where and how are you going to record content? Do you have adequate recording equipment? Do you know how to use it? Do you know which platform you are going to use to store it and share it with others? Getting the answers to these questions out of the way first frees up a lot of mental and physical energy to then go make some magic.

Generally, I suggest separating your to-do list into “Things I Need to Do,” “Things I Should Do,” and “Things I Simply Want to Do.” Things you need to do include those tasks with deadlines set in stone and tasks on which others are counting on for you to do in order for them to do their job. Will you get in serious trouble if you fail to do said task? Make it a top priority! Things you should do include tasks that support your main goals and accomplishments but don’t necessarily need to be tackled immediately. Maybe you are the only one who has to answer to a self-made deadline. This list should not be dismissed, but should be prioritized appropriately. The list of things you just simply want to do is self-explanatory. While it’d be cool and awesome to get these done, these things can be done after all the higher priority tasks have been accomplished.

Here are a couple important things to consider when you are prioritizing your to do list: Are all your obligations born of necessity (i.e., your job requires it), or are you simply pushing yourself to do things you feel you should want to do but don’t particularly do?

Is it irresponsible and selfish to put some of your passions above some of obligations if they bring your closer to fulfilling your dreams or greater goals? Are there things on your list that can be instantly eliminated if you are brave enough to say no to things that don’t serve you and, instead, to say yes to the things that do?

4. Take the First Step

Lost and Confused by Choices

Src: coachingandconsultingllc.com

Now it’s time to start working through your to-do list. What looks most doable? What can you begin right away? What will motivate you to move even further down your checklist? Even if it seems ridiculously simple or minor, tackle a task that you feel confident you can accomplish without any real strain.

When you are feeling especially stuck, trying to accomplish a monumental task first can actually be rather counterproductive. The more speed bumps you are likely to face on the way there, the more tempting it is to just turn back around to more familiar ground, or to stop the car completely—bringing you back into that rut. Treat yourself as you as if you are recovering…because you are. When you’ve been spinning your wheels in one hole for a while, you need to gently ease yourself back on the comfortable side roads before you can safely pick up the speed and the steady groove of the highway.

Rather than try to climb to the peak of the mountain first, it may best to just start warming up on one of the smaller trails. You won’t exhaust yourself right from the start, and seeing yourself accomplish one goal can give you that mental boost to quickly move onto the next one.

Also, while you may technically be able to handle many tasks at once, multitasking can blur some of your focus and cause you to drop one of the balls you’re juggling. So start by taking things one step at a time.

4. Dump the Excuses

Marianne Williamson quote

Src: fengshuidana.com

Sometimes we can talk ourselves out of taking the first steps because we have lost our belief that we can actually make it happen. We mentally defeat ourselves before even opening the gate. Sure, we say, I’ve done this before, but that was years ago when I was younger and had more original ideas. What makes me think I can surpass that now, after all this time?

Don’t try to bury these excuses or deny they exist. They will only come back to haunt you further on your path. Instead, allow yourself a certain amount of time each morning to vomit all these worries, fears, insecurities and self-critiques. Literally dump them all out, preferably on a page.

When you actually come face-to-face with your fears, it can become easier to address them one at a time. Identify the source of these thoughts. Are you saying to yourself something your horrid ex-boyfriend used to tell you to keep you under his thumb? Did your parents used to say it to you when you were still a learning, growing child? Did a boss or co-worker belittle your work when a big deal didn’t work out?

As you work through the sources of the excuses you tell yourself that keep you stagnant, mentally address each charge. Try to objectively think of a counterargument or two for each one. I can’t becomes well, I actually did that one times becomes hell, I did a few times and quite well, thank you very much. Who’s to say I can’t do it again? Reinforce these affirmations at every chance you get. If you need it, feel no shame setting yourself email or phone reminders of just how awesome and capable you really are.

In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson writes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world…We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Step forward and let your light shine. You were born for it.


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Can You Cycle Your Way Through the Workday?

DeskCycleWith all the news about the dangers of sitting behind the desk for extended periods of time, I’ve been thinking a lot about the different ways to keep my body moving even while I’m working. Not everyone works from home and can take a yoga break to get the blood flowing like I can. Nor do all of us work for a company that makes treadmill desks freely available to us. And unfortunately, most of us don’t have access to this trendsetting hamster wheel standing desk. However, I was fortunate enough to be offered the chance to review 3D Innovation’s DeskCycle.

What exactly is the DeskCycle? Well, just as you might guess, it’s a cycle that fits under your desk. At 10-inches tall, DeskCycle claims to be 5 inches shorter than other magnetic bikes. For the average-sized person, it can be used under a 27-inch or taller desk. The shorter your desk or the longer your legs are, the further back you’ll have to push the chair to avoid banging your knees on the desk.

It’s also one of the quietest home exercise bikes of any style that I’ve used, which is helpful if you have co-workers. With such smooth and even pedaling, which is much less harsh on the joints, I have been biking without losing concentration while writing articles over the past week and a half.

A tension control goes from 1 to 8, with the larger numbers providing more resistance—enough that even level 5 required me to put some power in my pedaling. At this stage in the game, cycling at the highest resistance is not conducive to typing for me, but I feel comfortable in the middle. I also found the pedaling to be quieter with less resistance when using the DeskCycle on non-carpeted, uneven ground. The faster and smoother I could ride, the easier it was to focus on my work.

Your chair also makes a huge difference in the ease of your ride. As you can see in the first part of this video, the chair gets bouncier with greater tension. In the second part of the video, I am on uneven, wooden floors in a creaky chair. Once I positioned myself well and reached the pace I was most comfortable with, however, it was smooth riding from there.

To keep track of your workout, the battery-operated LDC display is a useful tool.  Clicking it on while I cycle, I can see my speed, distance covered, how long I’ve been riding, and the amount of calories I’m burning. An online calorie calculator from DeskCycle allows you to enter your age, gender, height and weight, along with the distance you rode, on which resistance dial setting for how long a period of time to calculate the number of calories you burned.

You can currently buy the DeskCycle or from MiniPedalers.com for $159, or on Amazon for the same price with free shipping.

Honestly, I have loved using it ever since I found my riding groove. I wrote this review while cycling, in fact! It’s a soothing background activity that also happens to give you a pretty decent lower body workout. It’s a great way to break up the long work day, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their bodies moving while putting in long hours behind the desk.

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