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Why should we “Eat Clean”: some facts from FOOD RULES

 

Food Rules is a little book written by journalist, Michael Pollan. It’s a little book that could because it single- handedly inspired me to start a “Clean Eating Challenge” a couple of years ago.

 

I am not a big rule follower, especially when it comes to food. I enjoy food (a lot), and want to have freedom around what I eat (as in, please don’t tell me what to eat).

 

So the name of this book did not catch my attention at first.

 

But a good friend who equally loves and appreciates food told me to, “read it, it will change your life.”

 

Pollan begins the book by acknowledging that there is a lot of noise in the food and health world about what foods we should or should not eat. It was getting confusing and frustrating for him. Being a curious researcher and a food lover, he set out to figure it out to answers to his one question: What should we eat?

 

If we have one life to live on this planet earth, what and how should we feed our body so that we can keep it going as well as possible while enjoying this one life?

 

I love his suggestions, and his 64 “rules” that helped Pollan answer his simple beginning question.

 

Before we go into the rules, it’s important to address the 3 facts that Pollan believes we need to acknowledge before building our own thinking and planning around what we should eat to make the most of this one life, and all the wonderful foods out there.

 

Fact 1: “Populations that eat a so-called Western diet – generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lot of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains – invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease, and more than a third of all cancers can be linked to this diet.” 

 

Fact 2: “Populations eating remarkably wide range of traditional diets generally don’t suffer from these chronic diseases. These diets run the gamut from ones very high in fat (the Inuit in Greenland subsist largely on seal blubber) to ones high in carbohydrate (Central American Indians subsist largely on maize and beans) to ones very high in protein (Masai tribesmen in Africa subsist chiefly on cattle good, meat, and milk), to cite three rather extreme examples. What this suggests is that there is no single ideal human diet but that the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of different foods and a variety of different diets, except for one: Western diet that most of us now are eating (a diet that makes people sick).”

 

Fact 3: “People who get off the Western diet see dramatic improvements in their health. We have good research to suggest that the effects of the Western diet can be rolled back, and relatively quickly.”

 

With these facts that Pollan can prove with multitude of research and studies, he confidently sums up the answer to “What should we eat?” into seven words:

 

 

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

 

 

 

Needless to say, after reading this little book, I am convinced that these three facts are indeed true. Even though I don’t love following ‘rules,’ the ones that Pollan suggests in the book are mostly very enticing. And because I have, for a past years, been following most of them, I can attest them to be valid and effective. I still get to love and enjoy food whilst making the most of it to maximize my health and wellbeing.

 

That’s exactly what we will do during our Clean Eating Reset starting on September 11!

 

In my next posts, I will dig deeper into the “rules” in this little book, so that we can digest (pun intended) them in small bites.

 

In the mean time, if you want to join me in this “challenge,” go ahead and sign up right here.

Join my Free Clean Eating Reset: September 11-17, 2017

It’s been a couple of years since I started the very first Clean Eating Reset Challenge. That was when the term “Clean Eating” started circulating in the health and wellness world.

It’s still a loaded term. Depending on who you talk to, ‘clean eating’ can mean different things.

To be clear, “Clean Eating” for me does not mean anti “Dirty Eating” or “Bad foods.”

The term Clean Eating for me means eating foods closest to their original forms. It means eating mostly unprocessed, unrefined, natural foods, preferably cooked by you.

I was first inspired to offer this ‘challenge’ after reading FOOD RULES, the little book by Michael Pollan.

In it, he offers 64 rules as his secrets to eating well.

Some of these rules include:

• Avoid food products containing ingredients that third graders cannot pronounce

• Avoid food products that have sugar as the top three ingredients

• Avoid food products that contain high fructose corn syrup

• Eat your colors

• Eat foods that will eventually rot

• Eat animals that have themselves eaten well

• Eat mostly plants, especially leaves

….

…..

 

The list goes on.

As you can see, the “rules” aim to help us become more mindful of our food choices. These choices help us live  and feel better while hopefully improving the planet along the way.

As it turns out, eating this way allows our body to heal itself as well. I have so many people tell me that their nagging symptoms (from headaches, to digestive issues, to sleep, to arthritic pain) improve or disappear after they joined my Clean Eating Reset.

Here are some words from past Reset participants:

I did the Clean Eating Challenge. This was excellent advice. By doing that, it put me in the right mindset and lo and behold I lost 3 1/2lbs! My goal was to start eating mindfully and not gorging myself on unhealthy snacks. I didn’t want to never eat them again. The lack of interest in my number one craving and the ability to sense when I am full and to stop eating and save it for later are the two main things that have stayed with me. I have stepped up my exercise and have lost a total of 13#. And I look and feel so much better. I am so happy with my success and how the program has made me a healthier person.”

“While I was doing the Reset, I had more energy and in general, felt better.  Since the challenge, I have been more aware of my eating habits.  I am now able to take what I learned and apply to my daily living.”

“Participating in Kit’s last Clean Eating Reset helped me to stay the course with my healthy eating habits. It was also nice to know that there was a community of people who want the same for their life. It’s more fun to do this with a group of people than doing it alone.” 

The Reset is a one week long challenge, and is always free to anyone. The community grows each time, and we support each other in a gentle and encouraging ways.

The next week of Clean Eating Reset is from September 11 – 17. If you feel that you can benefit from learning about eating and cooking real, unprocessed foods, and improving your health naturally, this is the place for you.

More information can be found here!

And if you are ready to join, sign up and join for free right here! 

I look forward to seeing you in the community!

 

 

 

 

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?