Developing Healthy Habits for 2016

 

healthy habits

My mom used to say that if you had your health, you had everything you needed. She was a nurse, and she had seen people lose their health and subsequently lose jobs, families, and even their lives. She was a great proponent of preventative health care. She urged me to keep regular check ups with my doctors and my dentist. She also urged me to get vaccinations when recommended. To this day, with few exceptions, I follow her advice because I recognize the soundness of it.

Health is result of good genes to some degree, and as we get older, this is a factor, for sure. Another factor in health, however, is dependent upon whether or not you practice good health habits. Good health habits include eating for good nutrition, drinking recommended amounts of water, getting adequate and appropriate exercise, and so on.

During this time of year, with the Christmas holidays just behind us and the New Year just ahead of us, it is the time when we start to think in terms of fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions. Many of the most common resolutions are centered around health and fitness. I am certain that every fitness club on the planet is braced for an onslaught of new memberships that people will likely abandon almost as quickly as they sign up for them. That is a not a disaparagement…just a fact. Take a look at the graphic below to see why I make such a statement.

habits

Note that “85% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the first week.”

We don’t need to be resigned to bad health, however, just because creating new healthy habits is challenging. We just need to heed the two tips above, “Start slowly; Be consistent.”

I am starting a new program next week which I am calling “7 Months to 7 Healthier Habits for 2016.”  Click on the link for more information.

Are you as healthy as you would like to be? Consider:

  • Are you at your ideal weight?
  • Is your BMI (Body Mass Index) what you would like it to be?
  • Do you practice healthy eating habits regularly?
  • Do you drink the recommended amount of water most days?
  • Are you getting the exercise you need in order to be fit for your age and your current physical condition?

These are extremely important questions at any time of the year, but especially at this time. While everyone is thinking about making a “new start” in the New Year, why not think about how you might make 2016 a healthier year than last year?

If you have questions about the “7 Months to 7 Healthier Habits for 2016,” please let me know. I will be happy to work with you if you are interested in making this a healthier year ahead. In this program we will be working slowly and incrementally as we incorporate one new health habit a month for 7 months. In that way, the habits we create will last longer and by the end of July, 2016, we will be healthier, and if the adage is true, happier as well.

I invite you to join me.

Until next time.

 

 

5 Steps to a More Successful 2015

As you approach the New Year, you may be considering how you might change some of your less helpful habits—habits that are holding you back from being your “best” self. Or, perhaps you are thinking about which of your “bad” habits are preventing you from being happier, healthier, and more successful.

As a stress management coach, I offer specific strategies on how to manage and reduce stress in the lives of my clients. These strategies also help them become more resilient in the face of life’s inevitable challenges.

For the purposes of today’s message, I would like to focus on 5 steps that you can start taking today to take you to a better 2015:

1)  Make a decision. The first step you must take before making any change, much less maintaining a better habit, is actually to make the decision that you are going to change. You must first decide that you are going to change and maintain an improved habit (or habits) in the upcoming year. A decision is different from a wish, a hope, or a dream, and making a decision to change something in your life is the first step toward making any meaningful change that is likely to last.

2)  Change only one thing at a time. People don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions—and let’s face it, most don’t—because they overwhelm themselves with making a dozen “resolutions” when they need to focus on one change at a time. If you have multiple areas of your life where you want to make significant changes, you need to choose the top one that you feel is the most urgent to your health, happiness or success, and start there. If you try to make more than one change at a time, you are dooming yourself to failure before you even get started.

3)  Create S.M.A.R.T. goals. “S.M.A.R.T.” stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Attainable), Relevant, and Timely (or Time Limited).” A habit is something that is deeply ingrained. You engage in the behavior in question automatically and without thinking. That’s why it is called a habit. There is no denying that habits are hard to break. If that weren’t the case, we would drop bad habits in a hurry with little effort, right? But habits are sneaky…they drive your actions through your subconscious. So turn changing the habit into a goal and then establish parameters around how and why you want to change by creating S.M.A.R.T. goal language around it.

4)  Write your goal on a piece of paper and refer to it daily. There is something about writing down a goal that makes it feel more achievable than when it is just rattling around in your head. Write down your goal and write it in terms that comport with the S.M.A.R.T. goals in #3. In addition, write down why you want to change this habit. If you are a smoker and you want to quit smoking, write down why you want to do that. Is it because you don’t want to be a poor role model for your kids? Is it because you are tired of your clothes smelling like a stale ashtray all the time? Whatever the reason for your making the decision to change your habit, write it down. Then, carry the paper with you so that when you are tempted to revert to the old habit—and you will be tempted many times—you can remind yourself of the reasons for wanting to make the change.

5)  Share your goal with others and/or get a coach if you need one to hold you accountable for your actions. There is something about sharing goals with other people that keeps you more honest than if you keep the goal to yourself. If you make a decision to lose ten pounds between New Year’s day and March 31, 2015, that is something you CAN do…it falls under the heading of something you can translate into a S.M.A.R.T. goal…and if you stick to the resolve you felt when you made the decision, it is definitely doable. There are going to be times, however, when you will feel tempted to go back to your old habits of eating poorly and not exercising enough to be successful. You will be tempted to give up. If you have shared your goal with someone else, you are far more likely to stick with it. You may choose a friend or a buddy who will hold you to your promise to yourself. Perhaps you could use a coach that you hire specifically for the purpose of helping you stay motivated and to keep you honest throughout the process.

I have participated in a program around setting goals for myself as a business woman for the New Year. One of the important distinctions that the program offered is one that I believe might be helpful to you as you enter 2015. That distinction is to remember that your past does not define your future. You may have tried to quit smoking before and failed. You may have attempted to lose ten pounds before and gave up because it got hard or was inconvenient or you just couldn’t stick to your resolve.

That was then…this is now…it is a new day. This time you CAN be successful! You must first make a decision that this time is different, however. Decide once and for all that whatever it is that you want to change is not only something you wish you could do or just want to do…decide that it is something you will do…no excuses…and then follow the other four steps offered above to get you there. Tackle one bad habit at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once. One habit at a time, one day at a time…you can do this. Happy New Year.

For more information about Kitty Boitnott at Boitnott Coaching, LLC, contact her at BoitnottCoaching.com and subscribe to her newsletter by opting in for the free stress management evaluation that is available on her website. Or, fill out the form below:

How to Manage Your Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress - Photo by Shutterstock

Holiday Stress

Photo by Shutterstock

The holiday season is supposed to be the “happiest time of year.” At least that is the message that we hear in the songs, holiday specials, and all of the other messages–both overt and subliminal–to which we are subjected during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (And let’s face it…the holiday hype now begins long before Thanksgiving.)

The fact is, however, that for many people, this isn’t the happiest time of year. Moreover, it is a time when stress levels just ratchet up and up and up. There are pressures to spend more money…sometimes money we don’t have…so the credit cards get a work out with only passing thought to how they will get paid in the new year.

There are also pressures to eat things that we know aren’t good for us; but they go with the season, right? The standard Christmas gathering isn’t complete without fudge and Christmas cookies of every shape and description. Many of us just resign ourselves to gaining 5 or 10 pounds during this time of year…again, with little thought as to how that will make us feel as we hit the new year.

And then, there are the family get togethers and relationship pressures that we all face. Getting together with certain family members that we would rather not see, but they are, well…family. You have to deal with their intrusive questions that are supposed to show that they care but really make you feel like shouting, “It’s none of your business!”

All of these pressures add up, and instead of feeling happy, many of us just feel isolated, depressed, and dejected. For strategies for managing stress during the holiday season, go here for a “cheat sheet” on how to manage and reduce your stress as well as building natural resilience so that you feel less stress even when you are experiencing stressful situations. Continue reading

Do You Have Someone You Need to Forgive?

Photo by Shutterstock

Photo by Shutterstock

I write a newsletter for my clients, and today’s message seemed pertinent to share here. I don’t know if you have someone in your life whom you need to forgive…or perhaps the person you need to forgive is yourself. What I do know is that forgiveness is a topic that many of us talk about but just as many of us fail to practice for a variety of reasons. It sometimes just feels too hard to forgive someone who had breached your trust or betrayed you in some way.

Someone wisely said, “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” And when you think about, that is the absolute truth. You may be filled with anger, resentment, and even hatred, while the other person is merrily going about their business with no idea that you are so angry and upset with them.

In my thinking about the need to practice forgiveness, I ran across this article about the health benefits of practicing forgiveness. It has been written by the Mayo Clinic Staff, and since there is little that I could add to what they have offered, I decided to share the article. I hope you will find it of use to you. If you aren’t having trouble with forgiveness in your own life, chances are you know someone who is struggling because of some unresolved hurt or issue. Feel free to share this with anyone who you believe might benefit. It is a good reminder that letting go of grudges and bitterness is not about letting another person who has hurt you off the hook…it is about letting YOU off the hook once and for all.

Enjoy.

Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:

  • Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
  • Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
  • When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

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If you or a friend or family member is looking for a job because they are out of work, between jobs, or underemployed, contact me for information about the “disruptive job search” methodology that is taught atCareerHMO, the “cure for chronic career pain.” I am now working as a career coach with CareerHMO and am looking for people who could benefit from the program and the fantastic resources that are available through CareerHMO and its sister site, Careerealism.

Practicing the “Art” of Self-Care

 

Self Care

Self Care

I have been talking about self-care a lot as I conduct my workshops on stress management. As far as I can see, stress management relies most heavily on our ability to practice self-care, so I ask you to consider:  How good are you at practicing self-care?

Women, I believe, are especially vulnerable to the notion that taking care of self first is “selfish,” but I don’t believe that women are the only ones who suffer from not taking care of themselves. We are taught as small children that we must always share and we must bite back the things we would like to say in an effort to be “polite” and to “get along” with one another. Men and women receive messages that seem to indicate that others always come first, and where does leave them?

As a result, I believe we have a lot of adults who have lost touch with themselves while they go about their days putting the needs and feelings of everyone around them first.

Now, I am not talking about moms of small children. In the early years, it is necessary, of course, for young mothers to be mindful of and responsive to the needs of their babies and toddlers. But as our children grow older, to continue to put their every need head and shoulders above your own is not only not healthy for you, it teaches your children wrong lessons about how they should conduct their own lives.

We have gotten too used to putting everyone else first, and I believe we are paying the price for it by being sick more than we should, feeling tired so much of the time, and suffering from a serious bout of “is this all there is-itis.”

The solution, of course, isn’t to declare that from this point forward, you are only taking care of your own needs and no one else’s. That won’t solve anything. But there does need to be a better balance, it seems to me, between taking care of others’ needs and taking care of your own.

Stress is caused by a sense of overwhelm that can be created by feeling that there isn’t enough time, there isn’t enough money, and you don’t have the energy to deal with all of the demands on you. You can take some active steps toward better managing and reducing your stress right away if you start to learn some important self-care strategies.

Arianna Huffington has recently written an entire book on the premise that we as a society have become exhausted and that we need to recognize that taking care of ourselves is not selfish, it is self-preserving.

One of the strategies that she is promoting is meditation. I did a workshop recently on stress management, and one of the participants asked me before I began if I was going to talk about meditation. I told her that given the amount of time we had, I wouldn’t be talking about it at length, but I would be mentioning it as one of the seven strategies that I recommend to those who are interested in reducing their stress levels. Meditation every day or a daily practice of prayer—or both—can go a long way toward helping you feel better about yourself and about life in general.

Meditation is recognized as an important practice on a wider and wider basis these days. It isn’t just some New Age “woo-woo” stuff. Indeed, meditation is becoming more and more mainstream, and Oprah Winfrey has teamed up with Deepak Chopra in an effort to take it to an even wider audience worldwide. Researchers are discovering that brain waves can be altered with meditation, and an individual’s sense of well being can be impacted by a daily meditation practice.

I am going to suggest that for this week, you try to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, even if it is only for five minutes a day. And if the idea of being still and doing nothing for five minutes makes you feel anxious, consider that you could take a walking meditation, or still your mind while you are doing the dishes or working in your garden. The point of meditation is to still your mind, to get rid of the chatter that is constantly telling you that you don’t have enough time, you don’t have enough money, and whatever else your mind frequently goes on about. Still your mind while you knit or crochet…but still your mind if only for a few moments in order to make space for the inner voice of wisdom that resides in each of you but is so often drowned out.

Self-care is not about being selfish—it is about nurturing yourself and your own soul so that you can be the person you were born to be. Consider for just a moment what you might do differently if you were acting in your own best interests for a change. What if self-care became a way of life for you starting today? It could change your life, couldn’t it? And, if it can change your life—and for the better—why not give it a try? What do you have to lose?

For more information, please feel free to contact me directly at kittyboitnott@boitnottcoaching.com.

Like my Facebook page by clicking here. Find me on LinkedIn here.

For information about the career coaching program offered by CareerHMO, click here.

 

Stretching Beyond Your Comfort Zone

You may or may not be aware of that fact that I am a retired teacher and librarian. I worked in the public schools of Virginia for 33 years as a 6th grade language arts teacher and library media specialist, and I loved it. I loved it so much that I became National Board Certified in 2003 and renewed my certification in 2012.

In 2008, I leapt out of the comfort zone of the familiar and the relatively “easy” by running for and becoming the president of the Virginia Education Association…something I did from 2008-2012.

As I left the VEA, I recognized that I was suffering from a severe case of job “burn out.” As much as I loved representing my professional colleagues and advocating for the children that attend public schools, the job took a lot out of me… physically and emotionally.

After taking a few months to rest and relax, I decided that it was time to get back to work. I was unprepared, however, for the maze of job boards, changes in expectations regarding resumés, cover letters, and getting my LinkedIn profile up to speed. Suddenly, looking for a job became a full time occupation!

Somehow I was led to the website of a company called CareerHMO. The company is owned and operated by J.T. O’Donnell, a coach who has developed a proven methodology that she calls the “disruptive job search.”

J.T. was my coach during the time that I subscribed to CareerHMO’s JSAP program (Job Search Accelerator Program). With the help of that program, I got crystal clear about what it was that I did and what it was that I didn’t want in my next professional endeavor.

I knew in my heart of hearts that I really wanted to become a life coach, but I didn’t know any life coaches, I didn’t know how to select a program, and I wasn’t sure I could start a business of my own at this stage in my life. J.T. says that we are all a “business of one” and she has noted the growing trend of individuals starting their own businesses and serving as independent professional consultants. With J.T.’s encouragement, I decided to once again leave my “comfort zone” and start my own business as a coach. I have been grateful to J.T. personally and I have been recommending her program to others who have found themselves seeking jobs or new positions.

I truly believe that J.T.’s program is the “real deal.” The content of the program is rich and covers the gamut from self-assessment to the importance of developing a regular job search practice and eliminating negative self-talk that can be so damaging when people are between jobs.

Because I am such a fan of J.T’s and CareerHMO, I am thrilled to announce that I have joined CareerHMO as an Independent Coach Consultant (ICC).

Once again, I am taking on a new endeavor, stretching beyond my own particular comfort zone. I will be joining a team of highly qualified coaches, and I know I am going to learn something new everyday.

I would ask you to consider what it is that you may have done lately that took you out of your own comfort zone? Do you stretch yourself periodically or have you gotten complacent? Do you complain about your life but do nothing to change it?

I urge you to consider that life is all about taking on new chances and going for new opportunities as they present themselves to you.

In the meantime, while I know that not everyone reading this is looking for a job, it is likely that you know someone who is. Perhaps you have a relative who just finished college but hasn’t yet landed that dream job for which they are prepared. Or perhaps a friend has been laid off and they have found themselves like I was not so long ago, bewildered by the job search landscape and wondering where to go and what to do. If that is the case, I urge you to share the information below.

Right now, for those who go through my link at careerhmo.com/kitty-boitnott-external, you are eligible to take advantage of a free offer AND deep discounts on the prices of the packages that are available to subscribers. Having gone through the JSAP program myself, I can offer a testimonial to its effectiveness. I highly recommend it.

Please feel free to share the link with anyone who is between jobs, looking to change jobs, or anyone who anticipates wanting to look for a promotion or change at some time in the future. The methodology that is offered in this program can be used by anyone who wants to prepare themselves for their next great job.

 

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What are the Serendipities in Your Life?

Serendipity Stones Writer and poet, Simon Van Booy has said, “Coincidences mean you are on the right path.” Albert Einstein once said that coincidences are “God’s way of remaining anonymous.” I should offer the disclaimer here that I don’t really like the word, “coincidences.” I prefer to think of “coincidences” as “serendipities.” To me, serendipity is a coincidence with the added element of surprise or delight. I find serendipities in my life all the time. Some people recognize them later, after they have happened; but I usually spot them in the moment. I suspect I see them more readily because I have trained myself to be on the look out for them. My question to you today is, are you on the look out for coincidences/serendipities that indicate that you are on your right path? Is God trying to nudge you in a particular direction, but because She is doing it anonymously, you are ignoring the messages that you are receiving? If that is the case, I urge you to slow down and start paying more attention to the various coincidences that I am sure are occurring in your life right now, even as I write this message. No one is immune to having those odd, “coincidental” events in their lives to which I am referring. So, what are the coincidences in your life, and what are they trying to tell you? Are you on the right path, or do you need a course correction? You know deep down where you need to be and what you need to be doing. “Listen to your own wisdom,” as Oprah would say. It will not lead you astray. Now, just in case you need an example, I have one that just this minute happened for me. This morning, I presented to a group of teachers around the topic of National Board Certification. It made me think about the last person I mentored, and I wondered for a moment how she was doing. Then I proceeded on with my talk. Guess from whom I just this minute received an email? You guessed it. That person about whom I thought just this morning has contacted me, wanting to check in “out of the blue.” I haven’t heard from her for months. Why would she decide to check in with me today? Because I thought of her this morning and on some cosmic level, we must have connected. Those are the events about which I am writing. When you think of someone and they call you the next day. “I was just thinking about you,” you will say. Or you discover that you need some extra cash for something that has come up unexpectedly and suddenly, as you are balancing your checkbook you discover an error that reveals that you have the amount you need. Admittedly, it doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen on occasion. Be on the look out. Listen to the messages you are being sent. God is speaking to you through those coincidences that I like to think of serendipities. Again, as Oprah is famous for saying, it is “what I know for sure.”

Finding Balance: Reclaim Your Time and Live a More Fulfilling Life

Do you ever feel like you have too many things to accomplish in a single day?

Are you driven by demands at work all day only to come home to find more demands being made on your time and energy?

Do you feel worn out all the time, waking up just as tired in the morning as you were when you went to bed?

Is your life feeling less joyful and more like drudgery?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I have something special to offer you.

I am launching my first FREE Webinar in just a few weeks.

Mark your calendars for June 24th and plan to tune in from 7:00-8:30 pm to learn more about finding balance in your life once and for all!

 Here is what you will learn:

  • What is Balance? Consider perspectives that will help you think about your own life and how you might create more balance in your day-to-day activities.
  • What is Work-Life Balance? Learn to create a dynamic relationship between achievement, fulfillment, and the factors that influence your choices and decisions in both your work life and your personal life.
  • What Does Work-Life Balance Mean to YOU? This program will demonstrate for you that your life is yours alone, and you don’t have to compare it to anyone else; nor should you be comparing yourself with others in order to create the lifeYOU want to be living. Work-life balance means different things to different people. Explore what YOUR definition of work-life balance is.
  • How Do You Rate Your Work-Life Balance? The activities included in this webinar will help you assess where you are right now on the work-life balance spectrum. You will learn that work-life balance is an ever-changing relationship that is constant need of attention if the balance is to be achieved and maintained.
  • What are the Consequences of Work-Life Imbalance…and What are the Benefits of Improving Work-Life Balance? There is no easy fix and creating work-life balance is a challenge for most of us, but this webinar will show you what the real world consequences of not getting your work-life in balance will be for you.
  • What Can You Do to Improve Your Work-Life Balance? In this webinar, you will learn the specific things you can start doing right away that will help to improve your own work-life balance.

Stay tuned for more information on how to sign up for this special event. I am excited about the prospect of bringing this important information to you, and I hope you will plan right now to do this for yourself.