We all work. A lot. I spend time with friends, I spend time with family. I research constantly. I try to stay on top of my business. I cook. I eat. I drink. I am always on the go and I enjoy every moment. Lets face it-life is busy. We all glorify this act of ‘being busy’ that we sometimes forget about the importance of just being content with our lives.
On a typical day, you can find me up at 5:30 or 6am, training clients for a few hours, getting in some physical activity whether that be strength training, yoga, conditioning or mobility work, cooking food if I can run home during the day, responding to emails, getting my schedule together, programming for clients, talking to family, and constantly reading new material about fitness/health. I am POOPED by the end of a day. I can sometimes have that ‘there are not enough hours in the day’ attitude. Some days can be a challenge when it comes to prioritizing and keeping a sane head on my shoulders.
There are times when I am mentally, physically and emotionally drained. I spend hours writing programs for clients, making sure I am putting them first, responding to emails, blogging (or planning posts), and sometimes if I don’t plan accordingly, the person that suffers is me. My workouts suffer, my sleep suffers and I can just feel worn down. Physical activity is just one non negotiable item that keeps me sane. For me to stay centered and balanced, there are non negotiable that I practice every single day.
No, they do not include eating only fruits, veggies and proteins, running 5 miles, ‘sweating’ everyday and drinking a cleanse juice.
Having a set of non-negotiable items, tasks, foods, mantra’s–whatever it may be can help you stay more focused and centered in this crazy, hectic life. I find it SO important to make a PERSONAL list (key word being ‘personal’ as your list will differ greatly from anyone else. I challenge you to make a list of items that you must adhere to everyday to keep that head on your shoulders as balanced as can be!
I absolutely love the quote “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not a act, but a habit” – Aristotle
To ensure a happy, healthy life-these non negotiable items should have one common theme; they should bring you complete and utter HAPPINESS. Striving for personal excellence each and everyday can bring us joy, positive thoughts as well as a great challenge. These non negotiable items can shape us into the person we are.
And isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different? That’s the power of daily rituals.
Here are twelve daily rituals for long-term happiness and success
1. Be positive and spend time with positive people.
Negative energy can suck the life out of a room. Fast. You are in complete control of how you react to the people and events in your own life. You know those people who just suck the life out of a conversation.
For instance, I was having a conversation with someone about the upcoming winter season in Boston.
Me: ” I LOVE that it’s so light out in the morning now when I get up!”
Her: “Ughhhh, it’s so cold out and gets dark sooo early! This is miserable”
If that’s not a way to put a negative spin on a somewhat positive message, I don’t know what is! Negative people can be so negative that it takes more work to actually be around them.
We truly do create our own happiness and choosing who to share that with is of your own fruition! I learned years ago to get rid of toxicity in my life.
I would suggest evaluating people in your life who you care about and who you spend time with. Do these people push you to be your best self? Do they support you unconditionally? Can you be your true self around them? Will they be honest no matter what, in a constructive way? You can’t be afraid to cut out friends, co-workers or unsupportive family if they are holding you back.
You can also try to ignore negative comments from Debbie Downer . If he or she gets into a negative mindset when nothing can go right, just give a simple answer. If he or she actually says something positive, then provide some enthusiasm and reinforcement for their comments! It may just take some chatting for this person to realize that life is GOOD.
If all else fails and this person just can’t get the negative energy out of their mind, back away. Your life and happiness is too important.
2. Get 7-8 hours of sleep everynight: This is a HUGE priority for me. Ensure 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I certainly prioritize it. Sleep is such a magical and wonderful way to help us feel better and more productive during the day. In terms of simply feeling refreshed, muscle growth and recovery in response to exercise occurs in our sleep, so good sleep is essential when it comes to muscle-building. Too little sleep can inhibit the body’s ability to repair and grow muscle after exercise. Too little sleep can also lead to a decrease in muscle mass. Cortisol also comes into play here (stress hormone) that can increase due to a lack of sleep.
My tips for getting a restful nights sleep would be to develop a pre-sleep routine that will help you doze off more quickly. I like to read (not on my phone because brightness will keep the brain stimulated longer) and drink some decaf tea. Make sure that you have a proper sleep enviornment that ve optimized your sleep environment. You’ll sleep a lot better if your room is cool (18C or so), dark, and clean. Find a pillow that is comfy and suits your sleep style, and if possible make sure your bed provides you the right type of support.
3. Speaking with a Loved One Everyday: Days are hectic and there is nothing more important to me than work, family, friends and loved ones. I cherish my relationships and am a proponent of quality over quantity. There are so many different people in my life who I admire and learn a great deal from and it is extremely important that I remember to call, text, email or meet in person to remind myself how truly lucky I am to have them in my life. Every friend teaches me something new and every family member serves a different purpose. I will always be grateful for my relationships to these people in my life and never let a day go by where I don’t reach out or have a conversation with one whom I love.
4. Say NO to Stress: Out of all of the items on my list, this may be one of the most important for me to stick to; this doesn’t mean it’s easy to do everyday, but I make a concious effort to try my best. I have a long history of stress and anxiety. When I had my surgery back in 2012, I had an eye opening experience and saw just how important it is to find ways to manage and harbor my stress so as to not let it escalate and put my health in danger once again.
Personally, If I get stressed I feel physically ill fairly quickly. It can take a toll on my sleeping patterns, diet and mood. It is so integral to to find ways to release that pent up stress in ways that work for you! One way I deal with stress is to realize that I have it pretty good in my life. In other words ‘what is the worst that could happen?’ When I see people get ansty in lines at the supermarket, swearing and stomping around like the world is going to end, I have realized that nothing in life is that stressful or bad to get riled up like that.
Stress is a HUGE factor in the creating a unhealthy environment for your body to thrive. When you stress, your body goes into a ‘fight or flight’ mode in which it is always on edge. It can contribute to increase the stress hormone, cortisol. An increase in cortisol can eventually lead to weight gain due to its slowing of the metabolism. This can cause a surge in heart rate, blood pressure and overall feeling of being under attack. Stress can be the root cause of many health problems such as digestion, depression, weight gain, obesity, heart disease and loss of memory. Make sure you are getting balance in all aspects of your life to deal with stress. Whether it be at work, home, friends, relationships or just general stress, find something that makes you relaxed; completely and utterly relaxed. This could be different for each individual so find what works for you. Take a hike/walk, read a book, take a yoga class, grab coffee with a friend, get a massage, or take a bath! I know you may think you don’t have time for these activities in your hectic life but just keep in mind that THESE activities are what will make you productive and happier! You will feel refreshed, improve your mood, and get back that smile.
5. I Do NOT EVER Count Calories:
If I had a dime for every email I got asking how many calories I eat a day, I would have a nice chunk of change in my pocket. I have never and will never be a ‘calorie counter’ This is not to say it won’t work for you, but my advice would be to stay away from it and more so-be in tune with your body. Take note on how you feel after you are done eating a meal. If you are counting calories, and used up your ‘calories’ for that meal but are still ravishingly hungry… that’s a sign you need to be eating more. Our bodies will hold onto fat if you deprive yourself. By staying in tune with your body and staying consistent, this in turn will result in eating fewer calories without having to ‘work’ at it.
Counting calories also does not bode well for the long term. Are you going to be 70 years old and calorie counting? Of course not, and you probably are missing out on enjoying life! Intuitive eating is such a beautiful way to go about feeling more in tune with our bodies. Our bodies can tell us when we’re hungry and when we are full and rather than counting every single thing that goes into our mouths, we can get a sense of how we should be feeling. Counting calories is also time consuming! Frankly? I have way better things to do than counting every morsel that goes into my mouth.
6. Morning Coffee. Sounds silly but this is something that I absolutely need. It is so much more than coffee. It is the time of comfort, renewing, relaxing, delicious smells and appreciation. To me, my morning coffee is the culmunation of savoring a moment that makes me smile.
7. Movement. Moving in some form is certainly a non negotiable . Being able to walk, exercise, lift weights, practice yoga with no ailments is a blessing in itself. I do not view movement and physical fitness as a chore because I have never made it feel like that. My outlook on daily movement is that: ‘I don’t HAVE to workout. I GET to workout.’ Moving our bodies in different ways is one of the greatest gifts that we can take for granted. 3 years ago when I began following a very regimented workout plan that was a 5 day lifting routine (split body parts) with moderate cardio, there was not one thing in my way that would throw me off. It was a selfish time.
Getting on Stage was by far the biggest accomplishment I have achieved in my fitness career. After my 5th show, it was incredible to see how I could transform my body. I was the leanest I had ever been and had some amazing fun photos to capture the moments. After coming out of a horrible relationship, sticking to a plan gave me power. I felt in control and untouchable. I never slipped up and took the time to be selfish. After each show it was a bit of a struggle to see the weight creep back up just a bit. I was so used to that stage look that getting back to my happy body took some adjusting. I fell right back into my ‘plan’ and at times I simply didn’t want to do what was written down. If it was. I was the leanest I had ever been. Was I happy? Yes of course I was happy. But the question comes…was I enjoying my life to the fullest? No. My social life took a backseat and I couldn’t enjoy some of my favorite foods/drinks such as white wine, sourdough bread with butter and dairy. I love looking like this and seeing all of my hard work come to fruition but I want to stress the importance of BALANCE when it comes to your body and the importance of different types of movement. There are times when it is OKAY NOT to stick to a plan 100% if that means sacrificing your happiness and what makes you feel good
It really did take me years to realize that life is too short to spend it in the gym 80% of the time. I learned to workout and move in ways that make me feel good. I learned to adjust in my surroundings (for instance, if I traveled and didn’t have access to a gym or traveling with friends and didn’t have time to get in a lengthier workout so I modified to 20 minutes of activity) I gave myself the green light to experiment. I fell in love with yoga and kettlebells
I try to be open minded when it comes to physical activity and movement and I KNOW that I have come a long way of my more rigid days of NEEDING a gym and never skipping the workout that was planned. The truth is that there is no ‘right way’ to ‘get in shape’ Making movement part of your daily routine will make activity more fun and less of a chore. Had a gym night planned but a friend asked you to go for a hike? GO! Why miss out on that experience that will be fun, challenging, eye opening when you can spend every other night in the gym?
My daily non negotiable of movement does not mean that I dedicate hours to my workout. Sure, some days I may workout for 60-80 minutes in a very intense lifting session, but the next day I may walk around my neighborhood or simply work on some mobility. Consistency is key and getting out of the mindset that “I MUST do this” Find the FUN in movement and make it something you do everyday. You are never too old or too young or not strong enough or not ‘in shape’ enough. Get out there and do it!
I am a personal trainer and absolutely love helping people move better, feel better and increasing strength capacities, but I also take pride in preaching about balance when it comes to physical activity. If I have a client who is traveling and can’t follow their plan-I adjust and write them something they CAN do. If they miss a week because work is crazy…I just make it a point for them to walk as much as possible and still get in their mobility and some at home exercises such as planks, push ups, lunges etc. Movement is so necessary and should not be taken for granted and whatever form that makes you feel good is one you should stick with. There is no white or black. There can be a gray and sometimes it takes some adjusting and getting out of your comfort zone to know that the gray area is a good place to be.
8. Making Time For Fun. This may sound like an obvious one, but this can actually be one of the most challenging items on this list! I realized when I first started personal training that this is the type of job where I would have no time for myself. Of course, this is just the outlook that I had without really doing anything about it. After about a year, I learned how to manage my time more effectively to ensure that I was still leaving time to spend with loved ones, friends, family and ME. These days, we all get so focused and suckered into working more and more that we forget to take time for ourselves. My tip is to be more effective in the workplace, you MUST make time to do whatever makes you feel alive. I have certain days and times where I will simply not take a client. I have these times blocked off because they are reserved for me. Of course, I could work myself to the ground but in my opinion, life is too short to be frazzled, stressed and burnt out all the time. Creating time to play and have fun will open up your mind to more creative thinking, problem solving and focus in the workplace! Some ways that I look for fun in my city is subscribing to a few Facebook pages and websites that provide a list of FUN events!
- The Boston Calender Lists fun events in the Boston Area
- Bostinno Provides articles, events and happenings in Boston
- Boston Discovery Guide
- Event Brite
- Boston Budget: Things to do in Boston on a Budget!