Do Your Routines Serve or Sabotage You?

It is the beginning of the year and goals are at the top of everyone’s lists. Resolutions sound great but a 12 month time horizon all but sets them up for epic failure-again.

If you want this year to be different, listen up!

Goal accomplishment is what you want. We all set goals, but most overlook how daily routines can serve us or sabotage us.

Routines are important and powerful. They allow us to save time by not having to make decisions. They can support you, your vision, and your goals, or they can work against what you actually want.

We all have routines, but few of us actually chose our routines. We just seem to fall into them, and we keep our routines unless they’re obviously failing.

Your current routines might be okay, but are they bringing you closer to your goals? Do they support your values and priorities? Examine your daily routines and determine how well they serve you.

If you think that your routines could use a tune up, then join in the Morning Makeover Challenge. It is a free email mini-course with 5 strategies that deliver. One of my beta testers, Aaria, said:

I had never thought about a morning routine. I was used to my mom getting me up and me rushing to catch the bus. When I went to college, I was scared I’d be struggling to manage school, athletics, and fun. The Morning Makeover really helped me set my day up so that I got more done and made better progress than I could have ever made on my own. I won’t lie–knowing that sleep was a strategy had me sold from the start!

Aaria R., Collège Beta Challenger

Challenge begins Monday, January 11th. Join in and learn how to start your day on SLAY!

The Coup We Saw Coming

A brazen act of white domestic terrorism on our nation’s Capitol: thousands of people streaming toward the seats of Congress, with nothing between them but a flimsy chain link fence and a few glad-handing police officers, who essentially gave the armed insurrectionists a warm welcome, a grand tour, and escorted them with kid gloves into……

The Coup We Saw Coming

New Year, Halleloo!

It’s a New Year and a New You – How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions


Do you struggle to keep your New Year’s resolutions? More than likely, the excitement of starting a New Year wanes away and you find yourself back into your old routines.

Even when you have adequate motivation and the will to change, seeing it through can be damn-near impossible! The trick is to turn your optimism for the New Year into concrete actions. Once you start a routine, it becomes easier to follow through.

Whether you’re making multiple resolutions or wanting to work towards one bigger goal, be sure to pick something that’s achievable within the year’s time frame. And then, break those goals into chunks-or smaller goals that you can tackle in 4-, 8-, or 12 weeks time. I assure you, this is only way to prevent the ‘time horizon’ from getting the best of you.

I outline a few critical actionable steps that you should add to your resolution protocol!

A clipboard with a planner for the year 2021 and shiny stars sprinkled around like confetti.
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Set Achievable and Clear Goals (S.M.A.R.T.)

Strive for making your goals achievable so you don’t set yourself up for future failure. For example, let’s say your goal is to save money. Determine where you stand currently, and then give yourself a goal that can be achieved putting back or cutting about 3-5% of your income a week.

You’ll also benefit from making clear goals. Rather than saying that you want to save, state a specific dollar amount. Then define the “how” as well. Are you going to follow a specific budget? How are you going to cut costs? Are you going to start an account that bears interest?

By now, we are all familiar with SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. This works! With a clear, achievable goal and a set plan of tasks you know you can complete, you virtually guarantee your success! You know exactly what you want and how you’re going to get there. All you need to do now is take action.

Take and Track Action

Taking action is usually where people tend to run into some trouble. It’s easy to get pumped up about an idea, but when it comes down to executing your plan, you might be tempted to fall short which is why smaller, less daunting goals is helpful in avoiding overwhelm and procrastination.

In this situation, you only need to muster up the energy to start. Tell yourself that you’re going to stick to your new plan for one week and then evaluate how it went. On the other hand, if you take everything in all at once, you’ll be less likely to begin in the first place. If it looks overwhelming, just focus on the short term.

Establish Strong Routines

I personally believe this to be key. Rituals or routines can set the stage for success if you develop them when motivation is high. Then you experience lulls in motivation, you will be accustomed to the work part and will be able to power through until you are feeling motivated again. Failing to plan for a lag in motivation is what distracts and derails most people.

For example, in our money saving scenario, paring back spending can be especially tough if you’re not accustomed to budgeting. The early days can leave you without items of convenience and feeling deprived. That doesn’t sound like fun at all! However, those first few days are the worst you’ll endure. You will need to plan for entertainment and expenditures and perhaps prepare meals instead of dining out. After your rituals are established, however, you may find that you are exceeding your savings goal and having a good time in other ways as well.

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself often for your excellent efforts because you deserve it for working hard to change yourself for the better. You don’t need to wait until the end of the year to treat yourself.

Break up your goals into smaller pieces and every time you achieve a milestone, give yourself something that you enjoy. It could be an item you’ve been wanting or maybe a night out on the town.

Rewarding yourself for a job well done motivates you to keep going!

Do It Again!

After your first successful year of bettering yourself through New Year’s resolutions, you can then repeat the process and work on another aspect of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be a perfectly happy and healthy person because of your awareness, perseverance, and hard work!

Join me for the first email challenge of the new year, Establishing Your Morning Routine! It’s free and great way to get a running start on accomplishing your goals!

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Living in a culture so distracted by the thin/fit/cis/white/able-bodied ideal leads many to a disconnected relationship with the body, instead of one of reverence,”

@Benourished (instagram)
Girl with fork and knife ready to eat an elegant meal. Father nest to her, passing our carved meat.
Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com Girl with fork and knife ready to eat an elegant meal. Father nest to her, passing our carved meat.

When I read this post, I immediately replayed tons of comments about holiday weight gain, not enjoying favorite dishes, or eating quantities of comfort foods that would starve a bird. I get it. In my full-time career I work in a YMCA. I constantly reflect on the sheer depth of diet culture and how it has permeated the fabric that is woven into the tapestry of health and, subsequently, of one’s self-image. Honestly, I am so grateful for the exposure. It was the catalyst that pushed me to liberate myself from the entanglement with this culture through education, self-discovery, and lots of effort. You have no idea. Old thought and behavior patterns are hard-not impossible-to unlearn.  It is also why I am hopeful that others can too.

To that end, I hope that you will enjoy this season with a true zest for life! If that means eating your favorite foods, eat them. If you are binge baking to compensate for distance from family, mourning a loss, or for sheer pleasure, enjoy! Let this holiday season be the beginning of you learning to listen and trust your body again. Let this be the beginning of you committing to live more fully-on a full stomach! Let this be the beginning of knowing that there is so much more to life than dieting and feeling bad about your (AWESOME) body. I am here! I have club, and my dear soul, you are accepted 100% as you are right now. If you change your body in anyway, you are accepted. If you don’t, you are accepted. And honored. Truly and completely.

Wishing you the best that humanity and the universe has to offer this season and every day!

Moving Towards Oneness

“Othering” is a term that not only encompasses the many expressions of prejudice on the basis of group identities, but we argue that it provides a clarifying frame that reveals a set of common processes and conditions that propagate group-based inequality and marginality.

https://www.otheringandbelonging.org/the-problem-of-othering/
A photo of a hand of a person of medium brown skin touching the hand of a person of white  skin. Together the hands create a heart shape. The photo conveys the ideal that differences can be overcame to create an accepting, diverse society with all.
A photo of a hand of a person of medium brown skin touching the hand of a person of white skin. Together the hands create a heart shape.

A Complex Challenge

This concept of othering extends beyond mere recognition that we are individuals. Being an unique person means difference. That is not only ok but necessary for a enriching, challenging, and interesting social relationships. It is the expressions of prejudice aspect that is problematic. I am not really here to peel that onion. I merely want to acknowledge that expressions of acceptance and respect of those differences should be the goal of the global society. I am hopeful that we can move towards a society where we are able to care for each other. My work of faith in this regard is compassion for all and a much softened disposition than the days of my more militant youth.

To that end, I would like to invite you to listen to a podcast about Yoga and Removing the Concept of Other, in which, along with two of my colleagues and friends, and I was privileged to be included.

My hope is that the podcast will be a catalyst of reflection and conversation. As I endeavor to continue to move in front and behind the scenes to ensure that all people are able to live a life free to pursue happiness, I look forward to your thoughts, questions, comments, and experiences. Please like and share the podcast which is available on all the major platforms. For your convenience, listen on Spotify here and on iTunes here.

The Socials:

@fiercefitness.atx @innerexploreryoga @dexcellentfitness.

Gratitude: The Single Most Important Emotion

The one thing that holds people back from having their dream lifestyle and connect with other people in meaningful ways, is, in my opinion, a lack of gratitude.

Ingratitude, its polar opposite, leads all of your blessings down a black hole and you are left in a perpetual state of discontent. And the tell-tale signs are all there because genuine gratitude cannot.be.faked.

This feeling of emptiness is one of the reasons why we strive for more- more friends, more money, more status. Because how can you ever have enough if you don’t appreciate what you have?

Most of us, particularly in the “Western” culture, should be grateful for our lives and what is in them in a way that’s borders being apologetic. We, as animals, adapt. We become accustomed to things too easily. This phenomenon even has a name! Psychologists call this concept ‘hedonic adaptation’. We take our basics and our luxuries for granted (especially those we think are basic!). We take the paved streets, cars, public transportation, food and variety of food–all of it–for granted. We take the company and love of our families for granted.

This hedonic adaptation creates something even more dangerous–the false sense that these things will always be here at our disposal or for our enjoyment.

If you have ever lost something you valued, or worse, a loved one you treasured, then you know the truth in how truly fleeting the things and people that enrich our lives are.

Bring grateful is the anecdote!

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson offers a helpful introduction into what practicing gratitude can look like, and I, a reformed ingratiating fool, can attest that while it can feel forced in the beginning, it is like a muscle that builds endurance and ease as it is worked out.

Gratitude is an emotion similar to appreciation, and positive psychology research has found neurological reasons why so many people can benefit from this general practice of expressing thanks for our lives, even in times of challenge and change.

Science Says…

Check out the above link when you a little time to read. There is a growing body of research that is finding ties to mental, emotional, social, and physical health and wellness outcomes when expressing gratitude occurs for the both the person expressing thanks and to the person being appreciated. Endorphins, decreased stress, and increased positivity and happiness to name a few of the recorded benefits. So practice gratitude. Really.

A short list of science-backed benefits are:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced blood pressure and inflammation
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Decreased anxiety and depression

Isn’t that cool? In this day and age, all of those are big revenue streams for Big Pharma or expenses for folks. Consider that the power to improve them can be influenced by your and a practice of being grateful! (Please do not stop taking any prescribed medications!)

Positive psychologists have found evidence that practicing gratitude in the midst of grief, troubled times, and traumatic events, decrease pain and increase recovery/coping windows and improves resiliency.

Leslie Says…

What I suspect is that you will see how rich your life is, even in these trying and uncertain times, and you will stop looking at what is missing and began nurturing what you do have.

That is what happened to me. I started to add a few moments to my morning stretch and meditation to think of things I was grateful for in my life. At first, my health, job, and family were those things I mentioned moved on. Then I decided to say one unique them about each of them. Then I found myself driving mindfully and could often think of small details or events that made me smile. I took this with me everywhere I went! I felt better and more positive, even in the face of difficult situations.

I deepened my relationship with y husband and my teenager, my 8 year old seems cuter and less nerve-racking (I assure you-she has not changed AT ALL!) Overall, I feel happier and more optimistic and oddly enough, I sleep better and have keep my workouts sacred (and look forward to them). Funny how it all works out. It started with my sincere effort at being grateful for 2 minutes a day.

Most importantly, I found that practicing gratitude helps develop an abundance mindset and that feeling of contentment brings other things that make you happy into your life! It is the loveliest of cycles! Law of attraction at is finest !

Practicing Gratitude

If you are looking for a way to get started, try the following family-friendly activity. You can start now and to it on Thanksgiving Day, which should be every day. Get you some gratitude NOW!

The Gratitude Jar Activity

The gratitude jar is a stunningly simple exercise that can have profound effects on your well-being and outlook. It only requires a few ingredients: a jar (a box can also work); a ribbon, stickers, glitter, or whatever else you like to decorate the jar; paper and a pen or pencil for writing your gratitude notes; and gratitude!

Step 1: Find a jar or box.

Step 2: Decorate the jar however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.

Step 3: This is the most important step, which will be repeated every day. Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite place, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks.

If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of who, and what, is good in your life!

Kindness Challenge for November

Another way to try your hand at gratitude is starting with its sister, kindness. Kindness goes hand in hand with gratitude! At times, being grateful can be tough but you can always be kind–even if just with your self. Try it! People will or won’t appreciate it, but you will feel better and when you do receive thanks, you will grateful that you were able to make someone’s day! Click HERE for the challenge calendar!

Where is Your Passion?

Eeeek! It is almost National Novel Writing Month! #NaNoWriMo https://nanowrimo.org/

Living a Life that is Passion-Filled and FUN!

What are activities or things that you enjoy that are purely for fun? In this day and age where folks are hustling and monetizing their hobbies, it can be a challenge to simply enjoy something for enjoyment’s sake.

For me, that activity is writing! I have written a romance novel and have started the editing, but I do not like that part, lol. I plan to write the sequel this November during the #NaNoWriMo challenge. So, I would like to challenge you to 30 days of participating in your passion projects or activities! Yay for you!

The Benefits of Passion Projects

There are a few reasons why you should indulge in a passion project or passion activity.

  • Passion projects can help develop character and relationships. As you get involved in your project, you will become more positive and this will run over into all areas of your life.
  • Cultivating passion can help you cultivate success. Time for your passion project is a built in reward system that can encourage to tame time-sinks and become more productive and focused so that you can get to what you love.
  • Passion is a pusher; it is an emotional catalyst that fuels drive and intrinsic motivation. It can sustain you through rough times and dips in progress.
  • It will make you happier. “Happiness is about learning how to cultivate the mindset and behaviors that have been empirically proven to fuel greater success and fulfillment,: says leading Positive psychology researcher Dr. Shawn Achor. He explains that even a quick shot of happiness can go a long way. Passion projects should be fun and have a happiness factor for you.
  • Add creativity and broaden the way you express yourself.
  • It is a way to express your talents or to develop them!

I have a friend who loves to write. Not novels, poems. His goal is to write a two poems a day during #NaNoWriMo. You can a children’s book or series. A cartoon. A memoir. Stories from family elders. Or not write at all. But jump in to the challenge to live a little more fully this month!

Passion projects should encourage and motivate you daily! They can add a challenge, but should be fun. After all, this is not a work assignment or school; you are choosing the project, scope, deadlines, timelines, all of it!

You need only decide what you want to get out of the project, what kind of project or activity you are going to participate in, commit, and start on November 1st! See you on other side–happier, no doubt!

Please comment about your passions! Will you do the challenge? Have you joined the #NaNoWriMo challenge? If interested, it is here!

To your increased happiness!

My Daughter is a Blessing…Plain and Simple

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Technically, they both are. But today, I am writing specifically about the youngest one, Yani.

As October and all of the observances that were shoved into these 31 days draw to an end, I want to talk about the fact (increasingly becoming wide spread) that October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Not to be confused with World Down Syndrome Day (3-21).

Our Yani boo has Down Syndrome. It was an undiagnosed surprise so that is all I can say about that. She was born healthy and then we brought her home. At her one week checkup, her pediatrician said she wanted to have her chromosomes analyzed and I was like, thank goodness. She seemed surprised. I told her I suspected but no one in the hospital said anything but I stayed for three days and I could not figure out why I had needed to–no c-section, all-natural delivery. I did not press the issue because I was resting! No housework, etc. She informed me that the notes from my ob/gyn indicated I stayed due to my severe anemia! The baby had been free to go but my ob/gyn thought I would not stay if she had left, so he did not say anything, just came by to pretend to look in one the baby while checking on me! Smart doctor!

Admittedly, I think I had already worked it all out in my head so the diagnosis was merely a confirmation. After all, this was the second child I had birthed that had down syndrome. My son, who died suddenly at age two years, had broken down all ego or judgements or any need to grieve. I understand all of that intimately. I am frequently questioned about it and will cheerfully answer any questions if you reach out.

People with Down Syndrome have some general characteristics and those are only generalizations. The same amount of variety and individuality abound in them. After all, they are just people. They are stereotyped for being sweet, friendly, gentle, and cognitively delayed to varying degrees. My little girl is all of that. She is also a genius at getting out of trouble unscathed, inciting her sister to fits, has the heaviest hands on a little person if she is hitting you, and is functions in both English and Spanish (although her expressive skills in English are much stronger). She is sturdy and strong and very flexible. She loves dancing but is lazy when it comes to walking.

It was a new experience for my husband, who was not my son’s father. He had not known any one with this chromosomal arrangement and was terrified he mess her up. Fast-forward eight years. She let’s us know daily the things we did right and wrong with her. DAILY.

She is full of spunk and fire (right – although I am not sure how much we had to do with it!) She is loved and she knows it (right). As a result, she is confident and lives free from fear that punishment for writing on the walls or pouring out the soap into toilet (wrong!). Don’t get me wrong; we have tried to correct these displays or missteps, but no method we know of is effective. For real, folks, REACH OUT! She is social and accepted by peers and adults whom she views as extended family (right) and may leave with any one of them (WRONG!) if they meant her harm. She is playful and humorous (right) curses a lot (wrong-but she is contextually accurate and creative). Most importantly, she confirms how much of an blessing she is through teaching us about ourselves. We get daily lessons on forgiveness, why boundaries are important, having fun, the joys of family, what real hugs are like, the uselessness of pride, and unconditional love.

We adore our Yani boo. She is learning and teaching us every day. And of all the fears and doubts, the only one we have is whether or not we deserve her.

3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

What We All Should Know…I hope!

Good Hand Hygiene is Your Best Line of Defense Against Cold and Flu (and COVID-19) and Avoid Getting Sick by Keeping Your Distance

Hopefully, you and your family have mastered these two basics of health. But running a three-way tie behind them are easy and just as important!

Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

All systems of your body work best when they are properly fed. This includes your immune system. Stick to a mainly whole foods based diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you feel like you might be a little under the weather or suspect that you may have come into contact with someone sick, increasing your intake of Vitamin C may help as well. Eat a few citrus fruits. Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale are other great options.

Avoid eating processed foods. It takes a lot of time and effort to digest them and you don’t want to weigh your body down with extra work when that energy could be used to boost your immune system, keep you from getting sick, or help you get well sooner.

Get Some Exercise

In addition to eating well, get out there and get regular exercise. For best results, work out in the fresh air. Something as simple as a daily quick walk can help you stay well and strengthen your body. It has the added benefit of helping you to de-stress. I don’t have to tell you that you’re more likely to get sick when you are stressed out. Use daily exercise to destress and stay well. It will also help you with the last way to boost your immune system.

Make Time for Sleep

This last tip is easy to skip over, yet it is the most important one for most of us and the one that can give your immune system a great boost. It’s getting enough sleep. Make the time to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Practice good sleep hygiene. Don’t let the word scare you. It means turning off your phone and other screens a few hours before bed. Keep your bedroom calm, quiet, and at a temperature that encourages sleep. It also includes establishing and sticking to a bedtime routine. As an added bonus, you’ll feel more energized for everything else you have to do all day.

We all have times when we could use a little extra boost to our immune system. Cold and flu season are certainly part of that time, or the long winter weeks when we’re stuck inside in close quarters, our hygiene gives way to comfort and we are more likely to catch something. It’s also important anytime you board a plane for holiday travel or when your kids start school. The above are three simple things you can do daily to strengthen your immune system.

Stay tuned! I will share some easy recipes that will boost your immune system and satisfy!

Goal Challenge Check In

So, How is Going…REALLY?

I am doing great, thanks for asking!

For me, and the folks I coach, I find that weeks 1 and 2 are fueled by sheer excitement and potential! Which is great! Experience has shown that when motivation starts to wane it is discovered that the either 1) the goals are too big and a sense of overwhelm and panic at the time horizon sets in or, 2) the lack of rituals fail to get one over the hump of important/mandatory, but tedious tasks.

Today, let’s tackle the first pitfall before we get there.

One of the biggest issues regarding setting goals is to keep them at a high level. We all want to accomplish things in life. But setting goals that are too general (read BIG) is going to make it difficult to accomplish them. It’s also going to be difficult to measure how you are doing. The best approach is to break big goals into chunks. Give your smaller goals a second look and see if the scope exceeds the 12 week framework. If so, break it down so that each week you are moving the needle. Also, make sure that your goals are not too small and you are spinning your wheels. Just right-sized goals take time and can change based on weekly accomplishments and RITUALS. This is where the 12WY really shines. It helps you with this hard part so much!

Think of the chunks as action items. These actions are measurable units that you put to milestones. You need to set them up in a way that holds you accountable. Otherwise, they won’t get accomplished.

Write your goals and action steps down on paper. Put it in a place where you can view it every single day. It’s okay to record them electronically as well, although some people find it difficult to keep both the paper version and electronic version in sync. It’s personal preference. If you feel you can succeed with just one or the other, that is the way to go.

It’s okay to dream big with your goals but be realistic about accomplishing them. When you break your goals down into action steps and find they are not within your ability or skill set to accomplish within the specified periods, rework them until you find the right mix of actions. Making the goals and actions too difficult will set yourself up for frustration when not being able to accomplish them. Also, a the scoring practice of the 12WY helps you with this other hard part!

For me, I scored a 95% on Goal One, which was great because mid-week I realized one of my smaller goals was too vague to really measure progress. So I clarified it by making it into two smaller defined goals, but rated myself 0. I have four little goals that roll up into the one big goal and the average was 95%. The second goal, which was a weight loss goal of 1 pound a week was 80.25%. I did lose the pound but most likely due to increased workout intensity and length. The late night dinners got a 4 got me out of the 7 days. I am still in it to win it!

We will be back next week and I will share my tracking system and talk about rituals as an effective tool for building habits and persevering when motivation dips, which it will!