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Our thoughts lead us to everything we feel and do: “I think, therefore I am.”

I have been obsessed with thought-work of late. It’s fascinating to watch our own mind, and observe how we react or respond to what goes on in there.

I know this on an intellectual level (there are hundreds and thousands of books on this topic alone). I also know this professionally as I see it all the time as a healthcare practitioner. When it comes to pain or illness, for instance, how we think about what we are dealing with can either help us heal, or make the condition worse. I am reminded often of how powerful the mind can be.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to experience this thought work personally, and I wanted to share that with you.

A couple of months ago, I decided to finally get Lasik procedure for my eyes. Since I was 10 years old, I heavily relied on glasses and contact lenses to see anything at all: I was drastically near-sighted.

It may sounds silly, but the main reason I delayed Lasik was because you are obligated to wear glasses for 1-2 weeks, or more, ahead of time. And I hated wearing glasses.

Long story short, I took a plunge, and made an appointment for the procedure on August 3. I was ordered to wear glasses only for at least 7 days before the procedure.

My brain wanted to protest: it was mad at me. I wanted an exception from the doctor and bartered for fewer days. But no such luck.

Intellectually I knew it was not a big deal: so many people wear glasses daily and they are just fine! They are happy, even! They are functional and are able to do anything and everything with just glasses on.

But I did not want to do it. My brain believed that I would have trouble moving through the days with glasses on my face. What about exercising? What if it rained. Seriously, I was being so juvenile about all of it.

But the appointment was set. I was committed. It was now or never.

I was so committed and wanted to it go smoothly that I circled the first day of wearing glasses NINE days before the procedure date, instead of the mandatory SEVEN.

I watched my thoughts about it. The brain wanted to freak out, of course… two extra days of misery! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? YOU ARE INSANE. YOU WILL BE SO MISERABLE.

But the incentive was a big one: I wanted the procedure to go smoothly (apparently sometimes if the eyes are not ready for Lasik, they won’t do it), and I really wanted it to work. And I was not going to not have it done now.

The day on that calendar came. I longingly looked at my contact lenses in the morning as I got ready for the day. I started wearing glasses full time.

It was not comfortable, of course. I hated having them on my face all day long. My brain freaked out and wanted to go back to the contacts. I hated it when the glasses fogged up, or if I sweat and they want to fall off my face. I did not see as well wearing them, and felt nauseous on occasion. I could go on about the misery. I just wanted to take them off and put back on my contact lenses.

But I didn’t. I didn’t because my thoughts about the situation was different. Instead of resisting wearing glasses, I accepted wearing glasses.

I accepted despite the discomfort.

I accepted because I had a goal I wanted and needed to achieve.

I accepted and I showed up for myself.

For nine days, I did everything in my glasses: exercised, cooked, did yoga, drove, traveled across the globe, explored a new city, met new people… I lived in my glasses like I had never done in my life. I did not enjoy a moment of it, but I stayed committed because I had a strong incentive.

And today, I can say that it was all worth it. I said goodbye to the glasses that I did not enjoy and had the procedure without trouble (they even complimented me for wearing glasses for more days than necessary). I now enjoy a new vision without needing glasses, or contacts.

Shifting my thoughts about wearing glasses from a negative, resistant place to an accepting, neutral place made the nine days go by with much less drama. I experienced the discomfort, sure, but I also was rewarded by something pretty darn amazing on the other side.

So, Descarte’s famous phrase: “Cogito ergo sum, or I think therefore I am,” resonates now more than ever.

What about you?

What thoughts are keeping you from achieving your goals?

How can you reframe your thoughts to change your outcome?

It might be much easier than you think!

 

The Importance of Planning Ahead of Time

If I told you that you have to get on a direct flight that will last 15.5 hours, plus two other shorter flights before and after, how would you react?

If I were you, I would no doubt freak out. And if I could, I would politely excuse myself and do everything I can to not have to be on those planes!

 

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But what if that is the only way you can visit your family who you only see once a year, maybe, if you are lucky?

There is a valid reason why one would panic to think about such a torturous experience. I have lived through it enough times to tell you that there is nothing fun about it. The cramped, ever narrowing coach seat makes the long haul flights even worse regardless of the increased options of movies and entertainment in front of you (the food, as a side note, has not and will not improve).

I have a secret weapon to this insanity.

I tell my brain ahead of time that it will be okay. I will make it. I will survive. And it will all be worth it.

I plan on being uncomfortable.

Planning ahead works for everything that requires patience and discomfort, from these long flights, to getting a degree, to losing weight.

It boils down to how we manage our brain ahead of time. 

I will talk more about this in future posts as there is much to be discussed! For the time being, I will just mention that there are two very important parts of the brain that come into play during these times: the conscious and the subconscious. 

The subconscious brain is the more prevalent because it’s the part the brain that has to do with our survival. It is always ready to take charge in order to keep us alive.

If the subconscious brain feels uncomfortable (whether it’s the last 3 hours of the 15 hour flight, or if you are choosing to forego that brownie), it will react in unreasonable manners to keep us comfortable. But if we had planned ahead that we would be uncomfortable, and that it would be okay (this uses the conscious part of the brain), the likelihood of us responding (peacefully) instead of reacting negatively to the situation is so much greater.

 

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That’s what happened to me a few days ago while I journeyed half the way across the world to get back to Thailand to see my family: I planned ahead. I planned on what to read, what to write, what to listen to. I also planned to be really uncomfortable, and bored, and miserably achy.

As it turned out, the longest flight of all (15+ hours) went rather uneventfully. I may have even spent a moment (once it was all over) saying to myself: “Well, that was not all that bad!”

Using the brain to our advantage is a great way to use a tool that we already have.

Try it… plan on being uncomfortable for something in your near future.

It may just blow your mind!

 

 

 

The Power of Knowing Our Tendency: How it has changed how I do things.

It was a life-changing moment after I took the personality quiz created by Gretchen Rubin.

For so long, I knew that I showed up so much better and more consistently if I had to show up for other people.I am more successful in a classroom or group situations; I show up on time to appointments and meetings; I work hard to ‘be there’ for others.

When it comes to showing up just for me, it was 50/50, or more like 80/20, which always frustrated me. Why can I not do what I want to do for myself? Why can I do it for others?

There are, of course, many reasons for this.

I was glad to have found one of the reasons, through Gretchen Rubin’s work: Better than Before.

According to Gretchen, there are four personality types when it comes to expectations: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, and Rebels. (She’s actually coming out with a brand new book all about these tendencies.)

Most people fall in to the Obliger category : I am one of them.

An Obliger’s tendency is to meet outer expectations: other people’s expectation of you. We are more likely to show up for others, and we have a hard time meeting inner expectations. Bingo!

Having this knowledge, I now plan and strategize my life in a much more productive way.

If I have a goal to achieve or succeed in something (from exercising, to eating well, to daily mindful practices), I now seek outer accountability for better success.

For instance, I am now working with coaches to help with personal and professional goals. I work out with a trainer to help me get stronger. I sign up for a class when I want to learn about something new. I announce to friends and family (and the world), and get them involved, if I am doing some kind of challenge (oh, hello, Clean Eating Reset & Sweet Charity Sugar Challenge). I even have an accountability partner! It all works so much better because I know my tendency!

Doing it this way keeps me accountable and helps me succeed. I show up. I achieve my goals. It’s that simple!

What about you? Take the quiz and find out – it may change the way you go about life in the most positive ways!

 

Spring is a time of growth, rejuvenation and detoxification

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As temperature rises outside, birds are singing louder, buds are emerging from the ground, and tiny leaves pop and unfold from bare branches.  Life begins to appear around us again.

It’s my favorite time of the year!

Springtime in Chinese medicine represents growth, and rejuvenation.

It’s a time for new beginnings.

 

Five Elements in Chinese Medicine_ WOOD = SPRING

 

Five Element theory refers to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Chinese Medicine paradigm. The Principle of the Five Elements describes the flow of Qi and the balance of yin and yang. Each element corresponds to internal organ systems with correlating colors, emotions, and other symbols.

Spring season corresponds to the Liver system and its paired organ, the Gallbladder.

Liver, in Chinese medicine, rules the flow of Qi or the energy within us. Liver can easily be suppressed and stagnant during stressful times which causes discomfort and malaise in our physical and emotional states.

Liver Qi normally flows downward when in balance, otherwise it may “rebel” upward and cause Liver Yang to rise. Symptoms of Liver Yang rising include irritability, headaches, and the propensity to lose one’s temper.

The Gallbladder assists the Liver, but on its own, it rules decision-making.

In the Spring, Liver and Gallbladder energetics are more surfaced and sensitive. Our energy is ready for renewal, and the Liver and Gallbladder are ready to maximize the flow of Qi, get unstuck, get decisive, and restore balance. 

So, Spring the ideal time to cleanse and detoxify our mind and body!

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That’s why we will be starting a week of again Clean Eating Reset on the first day of Spring this year, March 20.

Join me and my community as we eat clean, restore energy and balance for one week in honor of the beginning of Spring!

 

 

Inspirations from down under: two families in a foreign land

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One of the most memorable experiences during our recent trip to Australia was not so much holding the koala bears, feeding the kangaroos, or walking on the pristine beaches. Of course those moments were amazing, and I already look forward to returning to Oz. But what I loved more was meeting and connecting with people down under, and hearing their stories.

It always comes back to human connection, doesn’t it?

We met two non-Australian families during our visit. One of which was a Swiss(not Robinson) family, with four teenage children. Geri is the father who hosted us for lunch one day in a mountain town north of Brisbane called Melaney.

Geri is a doctor who is writing a book on Sports Medicine. He decided to spend a sabbatical year in a different part of the world to focus on finishing up the book.

“We have some friends here, and I thought it would be a good experience for my family,” he reasoned.

They are renting a house off of the main street of town and the children go to the local high school. “We rented out our house, and just brought the necessities in suitcases. We are living simply this year,” explained Geri as he takes us on a ‘tour’ of their rental home where the rooms are bare with just mattresses on the floors, suitcases used as nightstands and desks.

Being with them, getting a glimpse of their current life, and hearing their stories, gave me a wonderful sense of adventure, and freedom.

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The other family we met moved to Australia from China. Bob Wong is a 6th generation acupuncturist. After finishing acupuncture degree in China, he and his wife just picked a place in the world where they wanted to start a life and family together. Yup, just like that… They looked at the world map, and picked a spot…and Brisbane, Australia it was (without ever having visited there).

Have you ever wanted to do that before? Well, they did it. And they are loving it, now with a little baby added to their team.

Of course both of these families have not avoided the challenges of living in a new country, navigating a new system, raising their children in a foreign land with no family help. But they have also mastered the art of simplifying their lives, and ‘going with the flow.’

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I have done this myself a few times, twice internationally, and multiple times within this vast country. I remember the fear of the unknown, but also the excitement of it all.

Of course we don’t have to pack our suitcases and move across the oceans to gain that space, that sense of adventure, and the new beginnings. We can do it each day in the comfort of our own home, sometimes even in the comfort of our own minds!

Fresh off the plane (and off of the jet lag cloud), I am inspired to do just that.

For me, it starts with simplifying my life (more in the next post) and getting grounded in the moment. How about you? What do you do to create more space in your life so that you can appreciate what is around you, and allow for adventures and freedom for you and your family?

Good Life Lessons from Australia : what the Aussies do to live a good life

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Greetings from Queensland, Australia!

When my husband asked if I wanted to come along with him on his work trip, I did not hesitate. It’s far, sure. It’s expensive, yes. It means taking the kids out of school, of course.

But… it’s also an opportunity of a life-time to get to a place none of us have set foot on before. It’s a great big learning adventure for the kids (more than any classroom can ever deliver). It’s a wonderful way to share life experiences as a family. Plus, they’re having summer down here. Goodbye snow, for now!

We’ve only enjoyed a few days of our time down-under, but already, I am learning from the people in this beautiful big continent how to live a full life. It’s a short list, but it’s good:

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1. Wake up early

I normally wake up very early, and often feel like I am amongst a handful of early risers because my world is blissfully quiet during those wee hours. But here, when I go out for my morning walk (around 5am), I find myself joining a nation of early risers. My fellow walkers look as if they had been up for several hours!

 

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2. Energize yourself in the morning

When I see people in these early hours, they are doing something active. They are either walking, jogging, surfing, or doing some form of activity. They are moving; they are energizing themselves.

 

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3. Surround yourself with active people

I am not the fastest walker out there, but I think I am pretty speedy. Back home, I am often walking by someone, excusing myself as I speed through to keep warm (a good incentive!).

Here, people are zooming by me, most of them older than I… which makes me want to speed to catch on with their pace. It’s like playing tennis with someone who is better than you. Not that I am competitive, but around here, I aspire to go just a little faster!

 

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4. Play

The young, and the old, both seem to be having fun at all times. They don’t let age define them. Those surfers out in the waves? They are not just young Aussie dudes, I can assure you that.

 

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5. Be outside, preferably by the water, whenever you can

People live outdoors here. Sure it’s easier when the climate allows. But I am pretty certain they are outside regardless of the weather. The other day when the sky was grim, passing showers peppered the coast all day long. People were still out on the beach, jogging the trails, riding their bikes. It was wonderful to witness and experience it with them.

These are just some things I have noticed thus far. I am grateful to be inspired by a bunch of happy people in Australia.

Over and out from down under for now!

 

 

Clean Eating Reset | January 2016 | Eat Food Not too Much Mostly Plants

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We are doing it again!

The Clean Eating Reset will start off the new year on January 1, 2016.

I have enjoyed each round of Clean Eating and have learned so much from all the participants… It’s amazing what a group of people with the same intention can do: it’s accountability at its best!

If you would like to join us, there is still time. Here are the details:

  1. It’ FREE to join and participate!
  2. It’s a week-long Clean Eating program to help you reset your metabolism, and curb your cravings.
  3. You will get the free guidelines in your inbox.
  4. You will get daily tips and recipes for meal inspirations.
  5. You will receive support (private Facebook group) from other members.
  6. No dieting. Not a cleansing.
  7. You get to eat real food!
  8. You get to feel amazing!

 

Join us by signing up here!

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The mantra for the week of Clean Eating is simply these seven words:

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

Here’s a story from Amy who joined the Reset a few months back:

“Kit changed my life by encouraging me to try the Clean Eating Reset with her in November last year.  My goal was to feel better in any way possible – I had a 6 month old baby, a 2 year old and a 3 year old at the time, and my lifelong migraines that had eased up a bit during my 3 pregnancies were back in full force. 

I have always been a healthy eater, so I wasn’t sure how much healthier I could get.  I found out.  I followed the challenge to the letter…and I felt really good.  Less fatigue (even though I was still getting up in the night my my baby), less “cloudiness” in my head, the heaviness i’ve always had at at the base of my head and shoulders was noticeably better, and NO MIGRAINES.  I was skeptical though, so I went back to my normal habits after that week.

January rolled around and Kit led another Clean Eating Reset.  I participated again and had the same results.  This time I knew we were onto something.  Kit pointed out that feeling that good by cutting out the bread and pasta may indicate an allergy to Gluten.  The migraines had recently gotten so bad that I decided I would cut out gluten for good and stay on the clean eating path.  That was last January (almost 1 year ago), and I’ve never turned back.  I’ve never felt better, not even when I was a lot younger.  Clearly, the gluten had been triggering migraines my entire life.  Now, I get an occasional migraine triggered by stress or tweaking my neck, but the weekly (sometimes 2-3 week) migraines that I got most of my life are gone.

I am so grateful to Kit for paying attention to my needs and symptoms and applying her vast knowledge to find a way to make my life better.  My family thanks her too!”

 

Ready to join and start 2016 on the right foot? Click here to sign up!

Two Words that help me succeed: Part 3 of 3

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Show up: the two words that I live by.

In the first post, I talked about how showing up for your health is essential to your life. The second post was all about showing up for your soul – that ethereal part of you that can be challenging to be noticed, but so crucial to your sanity and happiness.

Today, I want to talk about showing up for our goals, big and small.

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It’s December, the end of the year, so it’s our natural human tendency to be retrospective and then plan ahead. A lot of people make New Year Resolutions, full of hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. If you are like me, most of these resolutions quickly dissolve into thin air after a few weeks.

I can’t lie – even without a perfect track record, I still love making New Year Resolutions. It always brings me a sense of new beginning and challenges me to be a better person and do better things in the upcoming year.

Our family has a tradition of going around the dinner table on New Year’s Eve (at the same restaurant by a South Carolina beach, sitting next to a tired-looking Christmas tree). We review each of our resolution list from the previous year, and make new lists of three things we each hope to achieve in the coming year.

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Year after year, there’s the same pattern: most of us did not meet all of our goals. We may have achieved one or two of what we had on our list, but never three. Except for my husband: he seems to be able to check his whole list off consistently, year after year.

How does he do it?

He makes SMART goals, big and small, and then he shows up for them.

It sounds simple, right? But we also know how challenging it can be to have the kind of discipline and courage to work toward our goals day in and day out. If you asked him, he will tell you that all you need to do is to SHOW UP. He would say, with an air of ease, “Just do it!”

Translation, please?

He makes SMART goals, and then he does the showing up thing.

1. Make SMART goals. 

You have probably heard it before. SMART stands for : Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Trackable. It’s the golden rule of successful goal-setting. He does not make goals that he knows he can’t achieve. He’s not as much a dreamer as I am – so he makes specific goals that he knows he can achieve… even if it’s a challenge.

2. Showing up 

There again are my two favorite words. It simply means (as NIKE has done such a good job at this), JUST DO IT. Do what you say you will do. Show up for yourself as you show up for others. Work hard toward what you want to happen. It helps to have some kind of accountability, of course, like a friend, a family member, a coach, or even a dog to be there counting on your showing up.

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Four years ago, we adopted Katie, a Corgi-Beagle mix. She’s our first family dog. In fact, she’s the first dog for all of us. I can’t begin to convey what Katie has brought into our lives… that’s whole other blog entry, or maybe a book. What I can say today is that Katie has been the best accountability buddy I can ask for.

She has made me SHOW UP everyday. 

She’s the reason that I show up every day, for everything. Because I show up to her to walk her first thing in the morning, it also means I show up for my health (walking), my soul (quiet, meditative time) and my goals (all the above added up).

 

So showing up for Katie is easy: it’s SMART, and it has become non-negotiable.

The more I show up for her, the more I show up for her because she’s now expecting her walks, and my body expects the activity.

Showing up daily for something creates a habit. And habits fuel consistency which then allow us to achieve our goals effortlessly.

Showing up for Katie, even if it feels like a SMALL goal, creates a habit that allows my bigger goals to be achieved. I can perhaps check off all of my resolutions for next year if I start with: Walk Katie every day, twice a day. I can definitely do that!

 

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So, what are you going to show up for in this new year?

And HOW are you going to show up for them?

Two Words that Help me succeed: Part 2 of 3

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In the last post, I talked about the TWO WORDS that help me succeed, in everything. They are the two words that keep me together, the two words that if I ignore… I get in trouble.

The two words are: SHOW UP.

Showing up is what we all need to do to keep it together, right? It’s kind of all we need to do, period.

Today, I want to talk about showing up for our soul.

 

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The soul is a strange being… such an ethereal concept, and yet it’s such an important part of all of us. The soul makes itself known subconsciously and spontaneously. It is often felt when it is absent. For instance, when we get too busy with projects, to-do lists, obligations, and life stuff… the soul gets scared and it goes away.

That’s when we start to feel uneven. The feelings of being ‘out of balance’ and ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘insane’ become forefront and, truthfully, traumatic.We feel out of sorts and crazy. We wonder what is happening to our wellbeing. We often seek ways to return to balance, and harmony (using quick-fix ways like food, and medication).

In my opinion, this is when we are not showing up for our soul. It’s when our soul is sick, or absent.

Imagine yourself being made of two parts: the body, and the soul. The body is usually anchored down onto earth (thanks to gravity). But the soul is unanchored, and can easily float away. Ideally, they reside together in harmony, both anchored, both nurtured. When we spend long enough time ignoring the soul, it will leave the body and scatter around us (or elsewhere). That’s when we feel unbalanced. It’s hard to pinpoint where the soul goes, but basically, we just need to bring it back into the body, anchor it down to restore overall health and harmony.

Everyone needs a little something different to anchor their souls. For me, I feel it best when I do these things… when I show up for my soul in these ways:

 

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1. Connecting with another human being. 

Humans are wired for connection, especially the physical one. When we spend time with another human being (preferably someone with whom you enjoy spending time), sharing an experience, time, and stories, the human soul is nourished. We crave this connection more than we know it. I believe this is part of why social media runs the world today: it’s an easy way to ‘feel connected’ with the rest of humanity. But be careful… a lot of these ‘connections’ can be/ are false. It’s best to call up someone, go for a walk, and enjoy their company. That one-on-one, face-to-face connection is one of the best medications for the soul.

 

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2. Being in nature.

We are part of the animal kingdom! We are part of nature. It’s hard to remember this fact when our conscious brain is so busy being logical, planning ahead, solving problems. But when the soul needs to be anchored, there is almost nothing better than stepping out into nature, touch the soil or the sand, see the trees and the water. When I feel uneasy about life, being in nature is a total quick reset. I often feel better right away… like something realigned. It’s simply because I show up for the soul when I am in nature.

 

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3. Being inspired.

This one is a much more open-ended way of showing up for the soul, but I can’t live without it. Being inspired triggers the subconscious part of the brain where lies our creativity and spirituality. Being inspired propels us forward, giving us reasons to live, giving us reasons to LOVE living.

I find myself inspired by little things and big things. Usually it happens when I am not actually looking for inspiration. This type of showing up for the soul is a spontaneous one, but one to pause for and live for.

I find myself inspired by books, by art, by people’s stories. I find myself inspired by the way the sunlight touches a flower. I find myself inspired by the way someone is living their life. I find myself inspired by my children and how they see and live in the world. They are small moments, really, that spark joy or love inside of me. And that’s when I know that I am showing for my soul.

The health of our soul is detrimental to our overall health. I see it in my patients who are suffering from their sick souls even though their bodies are operating just fine. Find time today to show up for your soul and see a difference it makes in your life.

 

The Two Words That Help Me Succeed: Part 1 of 3

cosmos1Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend who asked me simply:  “What do you do?”.

What she meant was, what do I do to keep it together (or not). What do I do daily, weekly, monthly to make life work. We were walking, so I was thinking out loud as I answered. As I was starting to tell her about my daily routines, expectations I have for myself and others and such, it dawned on me that at the end of the day, there are only two words that simply sum up my answer.

Show Up.

 

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I show up. Or really, I try to show up, for everything.

When I show up, everything falls into place. And that’s how I make it work in this crazy, hectic, wonderfully extraordinary life.

The more I pondered about these two words, the more I realized that there are so many aspects of this showing up business. Today, I want to touch on the importance of showing up for health.

Showing up for health means that you prioritize things that make your life healthier. It means that you are committed to making healthy choices for yourself with food, activity, and rest: the three pillars of health in my new weight-release program, TRANSFORM.

 

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Let’s break it down.

What does it mean to show up for food?

We all know that we need to ‘eat healthy,’ right? If you followed my Clean Eating Reset program in late October, you may have experienced what it feels like to reset your metabolism by choosing real foods, eating less sugar, and less processed foods for your meals.

Showing up for food means making good choices most of the time for your body – making food a priority by not listening to the cravings. Showing up for food means staying committed to feeding your body with good fuel and nutrients, and not using food to numb your emotional needs.

 

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What does it mean to show up for activity?

Our body is like a machine that relies on daily activities for efficiency. Showing up for activity means taking care of this machine (the only one you have) so that it works properly. It does not at all mean you have to be a runner, or a yogi, do a cross-fit program or take spin classes. You should find activities that you enjoy and make it part of your life. If that means walking the dog daily (like I do), that is showing up for activity (for yourself, and your pet who will love you even more).

 

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Showing up for rest means making sure that you allow your body to relax and restore. It means quieting the mind as well as the body. It is finding the YIN within the YANG.

Showing up for rest means getting enough sleep, sure, but it also means saying no to too much chaos in life. I see too many people whose only true rest is on my acupuncture table, once a week. That is not nearly enough time for the body and the mind to be still (but better than nothing!). Showing up for rest means finding time in each day to allow your mind and body to connect and give yourself permission to just be.

How are you showing up for your health?

Next week, we will talk about how showing up for your soul will transform your life.