Posts Tagged monthly challenge
Something happened to men over the last few hundred years–they forgot how to relax. I know this, because my son’s baseball coach told me so himself. He had a bad cold at practice last week, and when I suggested that he should take some time off to relax, he smiled and said, “I’ve never really been the type who could sit in a chair and do nothing.”
It hasn’t always been this way. I know this, too, because I am fed a steady diet of famous quotes on this subject by well-meaning friends on my Facebook page. “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air,” was a perky piece of advice that arrived on my news feed one dreary Monday morning. “Spend some time alone every day.” Fat chance, I thought. “Rest; the sweet sauce of labor.” Enough! Now where’s that “un-friend” button?
You may be surprised that this new age-y advice doesn’t come from somewhere in the pages of O Magazine. These valuable insights about living life in balance are actually age-old gifts from some of the most esteemed male thinkers of all time–Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Dali Lama, and Plutarch the famous Greek philosopher, who also gave us, “The whole life of one man is but a point: let us enjoy it.” These guys understood the virtues of kicking back.
Of course life has changed from the good old days when men had time to saunter around the countryside pondering the meaning of life. There are a variety of reasons why relaxation no longer comes naturally to men. Most obvious are job related pressures and hard economic times. Many men feel anxious when they’re away from the office. They fear that if they head to the mountains with the family, the guy in the next office will be camped out at his desk sending project updates to the boss. And with laptops in briefcases, and PDA’s in back pockets where wallets used to be, it seems like the office has a way of detecting their whereabouts like a high tech heat seeking missile honing in on it’s target.
For many men, this life of “high anxiety” is the new normal. Studies even suggest that it can be addictive. But this approach is not healthy and it’s not sustainable. Eventually, like my son’s baseball coach, the body gives out.
Perhaps the first step to reclaiming the right to relax, is to recognize that there are more options than “sitting in a chair and doing nothing.” For many men, just the opposite is true. So this month, I’m going to take a stab at offering the guys a few suggestions for getting down to the business of relaxing:
• Find a hobby. Even our presidents found time for hobbies. George Washington liked to garden. Thomas Jefferson favored cooking. Bill Clinton loved to play his saxophone. Men often relax when they are physically and mentally engaged, and a hobby gives you something to be passionate about outside the demands of work or family. If you need some help, I stumbled upon a list of “45 Manly Hobbies,” to get you thinking.
• Get outside. Spending time outdoors each day can be a stepping stone to mind body activities like yoga or meditation. Venturing outside, even into a busy urban environment, helps you connect with the bigger world around you. And if you can leave your BlackBerry behind, you may even connect with yourself for a moment.
• Work your body. Workout, ride a bike, surf, walk, run, play on a team, have a catch with your kids. Doing more can have the same effect as doing less. Enough said.
• Bodywork. Sports massages, facials–even manicures and pedicures aren’t just for women anymore. Men are getting more comfortable with the idea of allowing themselves to be taken care of. Get your feet wet with “spa packages” that give you an opportunity to test drive a couple of treatment options.
There’s a reason why my Facebook page is beginning to read like a best selling collection of quotable quotes. We’re all unhappy with the way the scales have tipped toward a more stressful and confusing life. We dream of having more. Thoreau felt the same way when he headed to Walden Pond. He went into the woods because he “wished to live more deliberately.”
Well, maybe it’s time for a little modern-day civil disobedience, guys (women too). Stop dreaming and get on with the business of doing——nothing!
“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” -Margaret Thatcher
My 5 year old nephew was visiting from New Jersey last week, and we were chatting one evening while I made dinner. At one point, he looked at a big bowl of lemons I had sitting on the counter, and said to me in his wise little kindergarten voice, “You could make lemonade out of those lemons.”
Wow! At five years old, my little buddha nephew has already figured out one of the keys to a happy life.
Turning lemons into lemonade is a life lesson we’ve all used to navigate the chronic stress and anxiety that often greets us in the morning when the alarm clock sounds. But I’ve made homemade lemonade before, and I know that it doesn’t taste good if it’s overly sweet. Add too much sugar, and you end up with a syrupy slurry minus that zing of great citrus flavor. Fresh squeezed lemonade tastes best when it has some POP! That tart edginess that makes you smack your lips when you reach the bottom of the glass.
Most of us would agree that a life well lived is like that. Sure, we love to cast stress as the villain. If only things would run more smoothly with no big surprises, we’d be happier and more content.
But let’s be honest. We really aren’t happy unless we’re living slightly on the edge–just a tad bit out of our comfort zone. Tackling big projects at work, challenging ourselves with new experiences, or overcoming unforeseen obstacles are things that motivate us and give us an opportunity to become our best selves.
Stress, for better or worse, gives life the zest! pop! and ping! that makes us feel alive and engaged in the world.
The problem is, stress can also kill. Managed poorly, it can follow us through our days zapping our energy, robbing us of sleep, and leaving us feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It is one of the biggest reasons why we turn to unhealthy behaviors like overeating, skipping the gym, or zoning out in front of bad reality TV (yes, that last one is me).
So, let’s get back to the lemonade.
We don’t always have a choice about how much “sour” creeps into our lives. But countless studies suggest that making healthy choices in the way we eat, breathe and move our way through adversity can help us not only manage, but truly embrace this unpredictable, imperfect life of ours. It’s like stocking the pantry shelves with plenty of sugar, so that we’re ready for the big day when the lemon tree out back comes into bloom.
Here are my favorite strategies for striking just the right balance between “sweet” and “sour:”
Eat: We all know that this is our “go to” coping strategy when things get a little out of hand. Eating gives us something to do and can be comforting when we are feeling overwhelmed. But eating the wrong things, or eating too much, never turns out good. Recently, I heard an intuitive eating expert share the importance of making all foods “equally accessible.” She suggested making stress busting foods like calming teas and cut up fruits and veggies just as easy grab as the cookies and caffeine sitting around the house. Make these foods your first stop, and then if you need something more, allow yourself a small indulgence.
Breathe: Breathing and meditation are proven ways to ease the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that accompany stress. But many people, myself included, are not natural meditators. Start by choosing an activity you do often throughout the day–for me it’s driving the car or working on the computer. Each time you do this activity, take three or four deep cleansing breaths. This simple practice encourages the breath to be the calming influence you turn to when you feel your anxiety level rising.
Move: Make time to move. Even a brisk walk can ease anxious feelings or boost your energy when you’re feeling down. And while 10 minutes of light activity is a valid prescription for stress reduction, a workout that pushes you to sweat and challenge your limits can get the feel good hormones flowing and give you a powerful sense of accomplishment at the end.
As Margaret Thatcher says, we feel most satisfied with life when our head hits the pillow at the end of a busy day, and we have a story or two to tell about how we got through it. But like those fresh lemons sitting in the bowl on my counter, that crazy busy life of yours needs balance. Taking care of yourself by making healthy food choices, learning to breathe through stress, and moving your body on a regular basis will all help to make your life–lemons and all–that much sweeter.
Our February Challenge for you this month is “Making Time to Build Meaningful Relationships.” In her fitness blog, Meg Root shows you how to become your best and most supportive “fitness friend.” Now, how convenient is that?
Who Goes There? Fitness Friend or Fitness Foe?
GIRL IN SEARCH OF WORKOUT PARTNER. Out of shape working mom of two young boys, average body type, below average motivation, seeking similar for regular workouts and emotional support.
It isn’t news that having a fitness buddy increases your chances of long term success when trying to make positive lifestyle changes. But connecting with just the right person can be like posting your profile on a matchmaking website and hoping to find the perfect mate. You need someone who will get you out of bed before the kids get up, but won’t be too perky at 6am in the morning. They need to enjoy similar activities, but can’t be better at them than you are. It would also help if they carried excess baggage in the same areas, so you wouldn’t feel insecure working out next to them. But most of all, your ideal fitness friend would offer support and compassion when you stumble along the way or get discouraged when results are slow to come.
What if I told you that there is a perfect match for you, and you need to look no further than your bathroom mirror? Yes. That perfect fitness friend is YOU!
Ok. Except for one small teensy thing.
That last little part about being supportive when times get tough and offering gentle encouragement after you blow through a box of Girl Scout cookies at 9:30 at night. That’s the part most of us can’t seem to get right. One little slip off the wagon and we come out with guns blazing. “What a failure! You’re such a fat, lazy, loser! You will never reach your goals!” Sounds a little harsh, huh? I’m not exaggerating.
That soft voice of support and reason you would use for a good friend in a similar situation, is nowhere to be found when it comes to talking yourself down from a Thin Mint cookie rush. Instead of being your best fitness friend, you become your biggest fitness foe.
But what if there was a better way? And what if you were the one you could go to for help? Wouldn’t that be convenient?
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self Compassion, Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, that better way is practicing self-compassion. It recognizes that life is imperfect and people are imperfect. Therefore, we need to accept struggle and challenge as inevitable, and be gentle with ourselves when we don’t measure up to some standard set by ourselves or society.
Nowhere is this more true than when traveling the path of positive lifestyle change. After all, the quest to lose weight or get our body in shape (whatever “in shape” looks like), is about as imperfect as the five day weather forecast. Weight loss is never linear, and doesn’t really equate to calories in vs. calories out like all the magazines tell us. And when you finally lose that last stubborn 10 pounds through sheer effort, will, and great personal sacrifice, you look in the mirror only to discover that it came off of your chest and not your abs. Before you know it, that “mean girl” voice is berating you all over again.
Neff says, that practicing self-compassion means that you respond versus react to adversity by talking to yourself with gentle, supportive language. For example, “I can see how frustrated you are that the numbers on the scale haven’t budged this week. It sure would have felt rewarding to see some results from all your hard work.” Her research found that people who used this approach suffered less from anxiety and depression, and showed increased motivation and desire to reach their full potential. Not surprising, this is precisely the inner landscape we need to cultivate in order to make better and more consistent lifestyle choices.
But is it possible to shut down your “mean girl” voice, and turn up the volume on your “best fitness friend?” Dr. Neff’s website self-compassion.org, outlines a three pronged approach to practicing self-compassion:
Mindfulness. Tune into the emotions you feel around a particular event such as a diet slip up. As Neff points out, “You can’t heal what you can’t feel.” Be open and receptive to your thoughts and feelings without judgement or criticism. See them just as they are, no more, or no less.
Common Humanity. Recognize that you are not alone in your struggle. While it is not necessarily good news, at least 33% of our population is struggling with the same diet and exercise issues you are! This understanding of shared human experience, will help you feel less alone and more willing to support yourself.
Self kindness: Step up and be the fabulous fitness friend you’re seeking. Hold yourself accountable (no, Neff reassures, practicing self-compassion does not lead to being too easy on yourself), but be kind, caring, and supportive through every step and misstep of the process.
Self-compassion is such an important piece of the wellness puzzle, I wish I could say,
“There’s an app for that!” If only we could tap the screen on our PDA, when a bag of M&M’s seems like the answer to all our problems, and hear the gentle voice of reason encouraging us to take a better path. With a little practice, Dr. Neff says, you can become that voice. And best of all, “The great thing about self compassion is that you are always there, 24/7, to give you help when you need it the most.”
When it comes to your wellness goals, which are you–fitness friend or fitness foe? Let us know how you help yourself over the inevitable rough spots that come with making big lifestyle changes. Your story might just be what helps another reader get back on track.
From proposals to a simple date night with a friend , we received over 100 entries for this year’s Valentine’s Day Contest! We asked you to share your most memorable Valentine’s Day experiences and once again, we are in awe with the amount of love that graced our blog and Facebook page.
Some entries are humorous while others sound like they could easily be the premise of a romantic movie (and yes, we may have shed a tear or two reading a few), but all entries showed us just how special celebrating relationships can be.
We hope you enjoy reading our winning entries and from all of us here at Glen Ivy, we wish a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with love and laughter.
Grand Prize Winner
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was when I received a card from my Father. I was in college and seeing those words, “I love you” meant more to me than from any boyfriend. There was such joy in feeling the unconditional love of a parent. As a result, Valentine’s Day in our house is celebrated not just between me and my husband but with our children as well. It’s a day for us to remind each other how much we love one another and will always be there for each other – unconditional love.- Maria M.
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was last year. My husband is usually deployed the first part of the year, but we were blessed to have him home for 2 years. My husband, kids and I made a yummy and fun chocolate fondue. It was so special being together as a family and seeing the happiness in my kids’ faces. This year my husband is deployed again, so the kids and I are going to keep up our new family tradition of fondue, and send some chocolate to daddy too. – Erika N.
It was our second Valentines day together first one with our son and first one in our first home together. It was a simple homemade dinner for two, yet very romantic and in the background our babbling son. What made it memorable was everything. First home, first child, first Valentines together and not going out to a typical date night with candy and flowers. – Joshua M.
My favorite Valentine’s Day was spent with a friend. We were both without a significant other, and I was visiting her in London. While she was at work, I did some research and found a terrific restaurant and bar that she’d never been to. We had a great evening and finished out the day by watching a chick flick that any guy would have grumbled about. Here’s to celebrating friendship on Valentine’s Day! — Kathleen
NOTE TO WINNERS: We have your email address from your entry and will be contacting you soon to deliver your prize! Thanks so much for participating!
Share Your Most Memorable Valentine’s Day and WIN
February is the month of love and here at Glen Ivy we love memorable experiences and contests! In the spirit of love and celebrating special relationships, tell us about your most memorable, funniest or romantic Valentine’s Day.
How to Enter
Leave a comment below or on the Glen Ivy Facebook page and in 100 words or less describe your most memorable Valentine’s Day and you’ll have a chance to win a day for two at Glen Ivy Hot Springs.
Grand Prize: Spa Day for Two at Glen Ivy Hot Springs, Corona
Includes 2 Spa Admission, 2 Grotto Experiences, and Lunch for 2 at Café Solé
Runners Up: 2 Spa Admissions to Glen Ivy Hot Springs, Corona
Be sure to submit your story no later than Monday, February 13. We will announce a winner on Tuesday, February 14!
Whether it’s your relationship with yourself, with friends and family, or a special someone, February is the perfect time to focus on positive connections, love and quality time with the people that matter most to you.
Love is an important piece of our happiness. It can be found or created in many places… and is most wonderful when shared. The power of love, relationships and romance, the magic of finding it in the simplest places, and the positive effects it can have on our mood and health are the topics of this month’s exploration into spa lifestyle. There are so many ways to bring more love into your life. We hope to inspire you to take a closer look into how you can more deeply appreciate the moments in your everyday, and feel the joy of making someone else feel special!
Start right here, right now with a Love Note…(to yourself!)
Keep the love going all month long by staying connected on the Glen Ivy Blog, Facebook and Twitter – we’ll have plenty of inspiration and ideas for celebrating love and relationships, and we look forward to hearing from you!
Well fans, you did it again! You managed to make the 2012 Intentions into Actions Contest the best one yet! From spending more time with family to embarking on a mission to live a healthier life, we received over 400 entries (double the amount from last year!) that were filled with inspiration, dedication and love.
With all of the amazing entries that were submitted by you, our wonderful fans, we couldn’t pick just three winners so guess what? We randomly selected TWELVE! Congratulations to our winners who each have won a pair of Glen Ivy admission passes!
*We’ll be contacting the winners to mail you your prize
Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their 2012 intentions. We’d love to hear how your intentions are going throughout the year so make sure to follow Glen Ivy on Facebook to share and to see how others are doing. Whatever your intention may be, good luck from all of us here at Glen Ivy!
Share your New Year’s Intentions and
Enter to WIN a Day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs
As we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome in 2012, many of us like to take this time to reflect on little (or big) ways that we can make this upcoming year a little better. Whether it’s quitting a bad habit or taking up a new hobby, challenging yourself to stick to a resolution can be difficult so we are here to help with our annual “Intentions into Actions” contest. We’ve made it easy to enter, and think you may find hearing what your fellow spa goers are aspiring towards may offer inspiration and support to your own journey. In case you need a little inspiration, here are a few of our favorites from last year:
- To care for others, the way others took care of me when I was stressed out.
- This year I am going to put my health first.
- I am going to move my focus onto the positive of every situation, and pick my battles.
- I am going to keep a journal, because writing this down right now has made things seem clearer.
- This year, I intend to entertain more and invite friends over… as well continue to make new friendships
How to Enter
Share your intention with us right here on our blog by leaving a comment on this post before January 9, 2012. Make sure to tell us your resolution, why it’s important to you and how we can help you keep it all year long.
We will randomly select three lucky winners who will each win a pair of complimentary admissions to Glen Ivy Hot Springs. A day at the Spa can be a great incentive or reward and can help make putting your intentions into action a little easier. Winners will be announced the following week.
New Year, New You
From new Treatment Specials to Events and Activities, we’re here to help you kick start your intentions and start the year off the best way possible. Book the New Year, New You Detox Treatment or Pedicure to add a little bit of bliss to 2012 or enjoy $18.60 Admission any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday throughout the month for some post-holiday relaxation. Download the January Schedule of guest programs that include delicious Lunch and Learn class with our own Executive Chef Bill Wavrin and Container Gardening for a Colorful New Year.
With the turn of the calendar page, a favorite holiday season begins! Everyone has their own special way of celebrating this time of year, my thoughts immediately go to planning parties, cooking delicious food, the smiles on children’s faces, time to spend with friends and family… However you enjoy the season, the thing that too many of us do have in common is feeling some holiday stress. Since we believe in tackling stress so we can live happier, healthier lives, our December challenge is to put a little bit of Spa into your holiday, to keep it simple and make it meaningful.
I know my favorite way to add Spa to my holiday is to “go to the Spa!” Which is a great idea and we hope that you do. What could be better than a few hours to step away from it all, relax and recharge, even spend some quality time with friends or family at the Spa. But there is more to it than that. Throughout the month we will be offering advice for keeping things simple, from gift giving to planning get-togethers. We will be asking you to do a review of what the season means to you, which things are most important, and ways to keep your focus. You can also count on us for tips for stress relief, healthy and delicious holiday food, and how to get a head start on your new year’s intentions.
To get started, we want to hear from you. What is one simple thing that makes your holiday season special and meaningful? Whether it is a tradition, a favorite food, or special memory, please tell us in a comment on Facebook. And since it is the season of giving, we will choose two random comments to receive a gift from our new skincare partner Primavera!
More this Month:
A sampling of the December Guest Programs and Events Schedule for Glen Ivy Hot Springs, complimentary with spa admission:
• Stress-free Spaliday! Saturday December 10 at Glen Ivy Hot Springs
• Scents of the Season, Handmade Aromatherapy Gifts with Paula Hamilton
• Creating Loving Holiday Celebrations with Ariel Hubbard
• Gifts from the Garden with Patrick Mitchell
• Natural and Eco Friendly Holiday Gift Wrapping Ideas
• Traditional Mexican Holiday Tamales and Chile Relleno with Chef Bill Wavrin
“Go ahead! Eat whatever you want on Thanksgiving Day! Forget sticking to your diet. Pull up to the table and savor the delicious turkey feast with your family and friends.”
I know, this is not the typical holiday eating advice you might expect to hear from a certified wellness professional like myself. It may even border on being irresponsible–even reprehensible! But this month’s Glen Ivy Challenge, “Practicing Gratitude,” got me thinking: If people who practice gratitude on a regular basis are happier as studies suggest they are, does that mean they are healthier too? And if that’s the case, maybe the practice of gratitude during the upcoming holiday season is a better wellness strategy than depriving yourself of your favorite foods or counting the calories in a slice of pumpkin pie.
As it turns out, the answer to my question is, “Yes!” According to Dr. Robert Emmonds, a psychology professor at University of California Davis and author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, practicing gratitude or “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life,” is not only good for your mental health, but also improves your physical health as well. Participants in his gratitude studies showed improvements in their health status like sleeping longer hours and experiencing a better quality of sleep. They also had fewer symptoms of malaise such as headaches, nausea, and pain. The most exciting aspect of his research though, showed that these individuals also made better lifestyle choices. Emmonds explains, “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations.” In other words, people who recognize and feel appreciation for life’s gifts choose to take better care of themselves.
Finding the motivation to choose healthier behaviors is at the heart of lasting lifestyle change. That’s why the “gratitude approach” to better health makes sense to me. Many people I talk to about beginning an exercise program or eating a healthier diet say, “I know what I need to do, I just don’t do it!” They feel at a loss as to why they repeatedly sabotage their diets or can’t stick to their program. Moreover, their confusion is frequently laced with negative self talk that eventually becomes a barrier to their success.
By its very nature, gratitude practice requires you to perform an about face away from focusing on what isn’t working, to an appreciation for what is. Feeling bad about not going to the gym because you were held up at work, turns into feeling good about the twenty minute walk you took when you got home. And as Emmonds points out, this mental shift gives you a positive framework for living life where you are able to take control over your happiness levels.
So, with the busy holiday season upon us, and those pesky New Years resolutions following close behind, why not take a different approach this year. Lay the foundation for a year of better choices by trying my gratitude practice with a “healthy twist” during the month ahead:
- Connect with the good in your day. Start a simple gratitude journal today with the tips we provided in our recent blog post, Creating a Gratitude Journal. Try including a few entries that recognize the healthy choices you have made during your day–no matter how small.
- Connect with a sense of appreciation and thankfulness for your health and your ability to move about and do all the things you love to do. Begin to think about the healthy choices you can make in the New Year to improve your health status.
- Connect with your support system. Who are the people around you–family, friends and co-workers–who can become part of your wellness team next year? Just think, if they are on your team, you are on their team. Two healthy people for the price of one!
OK, gratitude practice won’t eliminate all the calories on your Thanksgiving plate. But approaching life with a positive outlook and a spirit of thanksgiving could mean that taking better care of yourself in the New Year comes more naturally to you. So, while I did’t really mean “Eat whatever you what this Thanksgiving,” go ahead and enjoy the turkey dressing and sweet potato pie. Just make sure there is a healthy dose of gratitude served up in between.