Make it Simple

As we head into a brand new year, it is obvious that the Pandemic Pause has us all living a bit differently. Now, more than ever, it’s important to our health to do good things for ourselves.

How can we make getting fit, eating healthy, meditation or mindfulness less daunting. Commit to it just for today. When you put a big X on the calendar, and do a happy dance, you’re celebrating success! Then, as James Clear says in his best selling book, Atomic Habits, “Don’t break the chain.” When you commit to doing something, just for today, then track it, you’ll build momentum.

Once you’ve got a few days under your belt, missing a day is painful! A couple of years ago I decided to do a stretching workout every morning. I set a minimum for what would count toward success. I have missed, maybe, two days! And, most days I do far more than the minimum I set for it to count … momentum! (There’s nothing like the image of a missing X to get me moving!) I’ve got a few different tracking sheets if you’d like one. Here’s a link to my favorite! (It’s the one above.)

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan share brilliant ways to focus on your One Thing in their book of the same name. Find that One Thing that if you do it regularly, it will make everything else easier or unnecessary. You want to move closer to your goal.

In their book The Consistence Chain, authors George Campbell and Jim Packard recommend having a substitute habit for times when your habit choice isn’t practical. For instance, if your ‘thing’ is to go for a walk every day, it’s not practical for you to head out in bad weather, so line up a selection of workouts to do instead. Practical substitution makes sense!

So, what’s one SIMPLE thing you would like add in, take out, or change daily to improve your wellness? I thought I’d toss out a few ideas:

  • Walk around the block
  • Get up ten minutes earlier than the family and savor the quiet
  • Track expenses
  • Read spiritually centered material
  • Make your bed
  • Reach out to someone
  • Start every day with a JP+ Complete smoothie
  • Try new fitness activities online. Tai chi? Yoga? Low impact aerobics? Strength?
  • Read uplifting books
  • Listen to or read personal development material
  • Read a daily devotion and journal your thoughts
  • Take Juice Plus+
  • Have a side salad at dinner … even if dinner is McDonald’s
  • Figure out a budget and set aside time daily to make sure it’s accurate. (Make it fun!)
  • Learn something new
  • Eat veggies at every meal
  • Check in with friends

Working with a health coach can help you to determine your one thing, and how to implement it. Having that accountability, even when it comes with a dose of kindness, ramps up motivation.

I’d love to support you in your journey to wellness. Feel free to reach out via my website at: http://www.nancyoglesby.com

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Why Hire a Certified Health Coach?

When I attend events and people ask what I do they often ask me, “Why does someone hire a health coach?” For quite awhile I answered each person differently with things like, a coach can:

  • help people figure out what works for them
  • support a person in finding out how to lose weight
  • help someone reduce or eliminate arthritis, high blood pressure or diabetes
  • teach how to integrate healthy food into their lifestyle
  • guide people into a lifestyle that will bring them more energy, better sleep and fewer aches and pains

It all felt a little vague and people didn’t seem to get it. Then one morning I woke up knowing how to answer the question with confidence and, I have to say, I have to wonder what took me so long! This is why you should hire a Certified Integrative Health Coach:

One day Margaret, a tennis player, realizes that her dream is to get into the US Open. In order to realize her goal, Margaret knows she will need a top-notch coach. After all, she’s taught herself a lot over the last few years, and had some good guidance, but now she’s serious about achieving her vision so she goes out and finds herself a coach that is a good fit.

The coach watches Margaret’s forehand, backhand and serve. She watches her move to the net, how she decides to make her move and the coach watches when a competitor enters the court. Physicality isn’t all that the coach pays attention to, she also observes what Margaret eats, drinks and how she relaxes.

After observing Margaret the coach develops a plan and goes over it with her, they make a few subtle changes, determine how to proceed and then Margaret takes the first step.

The coach doesn’t go back to the office, put her feet up and wait for the rewarding moment when Margaret calls to say she is in the US Open. The coach continues to observe and tweaks the plan when necessary providing support and guidance throughout. Basically, she observes, develops and manages Margaret’s game plan.

Margaret continues to make positive changes and over time, the small changes begin to work their magic. Soon she is in the US Open … her coach at her side, beaming with pride at Margaret’s accomplishment!

What is YOUR US Open? Consider hiring a coach to observe, develop and manage your game plan for better health. Each person is different and no one lifestyle works for everyone. I will provide support and guidance while finding healthy lifestyle choices that work for you. Making small changes, one step at a time, creates lasting, sustainable change, change that doesn’t disrupt your life.

So, why hire a Certified Health Coach? Because making it to your version of the US Open will go smoother with a well-developed plan, and the right support to achieve it.

How I Healed my immune system & quit getting sick. Part One

This is the first in an 8-part journey toward a healthier immune system and a healthier you. Getting healthy was what led me to go back to school to become a certified health coach. I love helping people see that it doesn’t have to be complicated, and they don’t have to change everything at once. Focus on a couple of small things a month and, one step at a time, you’ll begin to ache less, have more energy, be more focused … and your immune system will be doing a happy dance!

In my experience, no one journey is the same. Test ideas and if they don’t work, we can look for another solution.

Part One: I Fed the Critters in My Gut the Food They Thrive On

I used to have horrible allergies and caught colds and bronchitis regularly. I’ve even had pneumonia a few times. Now? I can’t remember when the last cold was, but it didn’t sink into my chest leaving me gasping for air, coughing, wheezing, sweating one minute and chills the next. And, it was gone in two days!

Allergies? I occasionally get itchy eyes and sneeze, but no wheezing or asthma in years! The eye thing tends to happen when one of my neighbors uses fabric softener sheets. I still have issues with perfumes and chemicals, but I don’t think that’s an over-reactive immune system, rather a healthy one … it knows those chemicals are bad for us!

Add in to crowd out! The founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal, has taught this concept since 1992, long before the explosion of interest in wellness went mainstream. That’s where I went to school and learned the concept.

Americans really do love junk food and that makes it hard to stick to a healthy plan. Everywhere you look there’s a decadent photograph of unhealthy food!

So, instead of changing everything at once, choose to go slow and start by adding in one thing that’s good for you. You might try adding in an apple. (I love a good Gala!) Think about how happy you’ll make your body when you toss in the thousands of eensy teensy micronutrients in that apple … I guarantee you’re not getting them in your multivitamin!

Want to take it to the next level? Eat a handful of nuts with the apple. Whoa! Now, you’ve created an amazing burst of nutrition the likes of which have been unknown to your cells! Clean protein! Healthy fat! Fiber!!! Your microbiome will be feasting!

Microbiome is the term for the trillions of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live in your gut. Keep in mind that there is a well-orchestrated balance of good guys and bad guys in your microbiome. The good guys love the nutrients and fiber from plants, and we want a LOT of the good guys!

Overly processed and chemically-laden foods (artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and a ton of other additives) do NOT support healthy gut flora.

How does this impact your immune system? Your gut, and its critters, is the seat of your immune system’s soul. By feeding it with clean, real food you are making your immune system happy by supporting the good guys and challenging the bad ones.

A happy immune system is much more likely to step up and do its job of recognizing and destroying intruders. Rather than focus on ‘boosting’ your immune system, it’s helpful to think of it as bringing into balance. You don’t want an over- or under-reactive immune system. In one case it unleashes a defense system that attacks your own healthy cells (autoimmune), pollen or peanuts (for example). In the case of an under-reactive system, not much of a defense is launched and we catch colds, bronchitis, strep, pneumonia, etc.

Back to ‘adding in.’ Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the key. Different varieties of plants feed different critters. Some might like the hundreds or thousands of nutrients in an apple and others the nutrients in strawberries or blueberries. Spinach might feed one type, while celery feeds another. The fiber in raspberries may be the perfect food for that little guy in the corner.

Here are some ideas for how to add in good food:

  • Have a tray of veggies with dip out on the table while preparing dinner. It’s the only thing you and the family can munch on before dinner.  Have celery and carrot sticks, cauliflower and broccoli, cherry tomatoes and radishes already washed and sliced. You can also have dips such as guacamole or salsa … even ranch.
  • When you cook at home more often you control the quality of ingredients. Notice I said more, not exclusively.
  • If you don’t know how to cook, try borrowing a kid’s cookbook from the library. They have great basics! Chop! Chop! is a great magazine that is designed for families to learn how to cook healthy foods. Check it out! chopchopfamily.org
  • Try the nuts and fruit above instead of a candy bar. I know the feeling when the vending machine starts calling my name … having raisins and nuts nearby can make all the difference whether it’s in your desk drawer, purse, or the console of your car.
  • A quick run through the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and salad is a better choice than burgers or tacos from a fast food restaurant. Try adding something you’ve never eaten before to the salad. Oh, come on … Just put a bit on the side!

So much of the time, articles about eating healthy remark on how expensive it can be. It’s true that a burrito from Amy’s is more expensive than a Hot Pocket, but when you learn how to prepare simple things yourself, you cut the cost drastically.

Beans and whole grains are cheap. Buy organic from the dirty dozen list and buy the clean fifteen conventionally. Be aware that the list changes from year to year, so check back occasionally.

Give your immune system the nutrition it needs by adding in something healthy every week or month and crowding out the things that disrupt it. You will be on the way to creating the next best version of yourself … All painlessly and one step at a time!

If you’d like more ideas on how to add in the good stuff and crowd out the bad, check out my book, No Kale Required: Healthy Eating Ideas for the Rest of Us.

If you’d like to arrange a free health conversation, click here, or fill out the contact me at the top of the page.

If you like what you see, please share. THANKS!!

Cheeseburgers, Pizza & Wings, Oh My! How I Beat My Fast Food Cravings

I absolutely love cheeseburgers, chicken wings, French fries, francheesies, pizza, M&M’s, Snickers & ice cream? What’s your favorite? Mine depends on the day, but high on the list are wings, ice cream and pizza.

Photo Credit Jake Weirick

But, America is getting fatter and sicker and so was I. Worse? Big Food, the conglomerate of corporations that make up the bulk of our food supply, aren’t going to come to our rescue. They use cheap, ultra-processed ingredients that are stripped of nutrition to maximize profits. And, they want us to eat more and more as illustrated by one of their goals: To make food craveable.

The term, craveable, is defined by dictionary.com as: “having qualities that engender an intense desire for more: All too often, salt, sugar, fat, and “crunch” make a food craveable.”

As a Health Coach I like to help clients make some of those craveable foods healthier, and simple to prepare.

Let’s start with a cheeseburger and how I made it healthier:

  1. Start with organic grass-fed beef. Season with salt, pepper, parsley flakes, garlic, and onion powder and cook it in a frying pan, under a broiler, or in an air fryer.
  2. Buy organic, pastured cheese, or a plant-based variety. Once you flip the burger the first time, lay the cheese on top.
  3. Now for the bun. Good luck. I eat mine without, but if you can find a locally sourced fermented bun (KC, think Farm to Market) it can be a decent choice.

You can make some sweet potato fries in your air fryer but instead, how about making a lovely green salad? No? Okay, fries then? Slice the sweet potatoes and spray with either olive, avocado or coconut oil, sprinkle with salt and toss in your air fryer for about 15 minutes (or whatever time your fryer suggests). No air fryer? Heat up your oven and cook at 400°

You can still have the salad. 😉 I’ve got a simple homemade dressing that you can make and store in the cupboard … all healthy oils and stuff.

Francheesies are one of my fave junk foods. Who doesn’t love a hot dog stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon? This one is easy, but I don’t recommend adding deli meats to your daily plan. Just have this every once in awhile and enjoy!

  1. Uncured, organic, grass fed hotdogs. I like Applegate Farms. Make a slit lengthwise being careful not to slice through.
  2. Same cheese as above, make into ½” wide, thin slices and put one or two in each slit.
  3. Wrap uncured bacon from humanely raised pigs around the dog and secure with toothpicks about 1” from each end.
  4. Cook in your preheated air fryer for about 7-9 minutes at 400°

Are you only feeding yourself or two of you? Make up mini meal kits by putting a burger, a slice of cheese and a bun or two hot dogs, two slices of bacon and a slice of cheese into storage bags and store in the freezer. Easy dinner when plans go awry.

Pizzas are easy to make healthy. You can buy or make a healthy crust. There are a lot of recipes available to create one that fits your health needs from gluten free to low-carb and keto. Organic pizza or barbecue sauce and cheese, uncured meats from humanely raised animals or organic, pastured poultry along with fresh or frozen veggies make pizza a breeze.

This is especially easy if you have a day of the week when you prepare a few meals for the week. If you’re making your own crust, start your dough and let it rise while making another dish. When it’s ready, top with your favorite ingredients and freeze for another day. (You can also freeze just the crusts and top when you bake.)

Chicken Wings If you live near a Trader Joe’s or Natural Grocers, you’re in luck! They have reasonably priced frozen organic chicken wings. If you also have an air fryer you can have dinner ready in 25-minutes. At the time of this writing the wings ran around $7 for two pounds. For the sauce, melt grass-fed butter or Earth Balance (1/4 c) and mix in 2 tsp. of hot pepper sauce and 1 tsp. of vinegar. Toss the wings and sit back and enjoy! This is much cheaper than buying them at the local bar.

For anything fried, from potato chips to French fries, the oil you use will make the difference between healthy or not. Check out this article for more info and instead, use avocado or coconut oil.

Snickers your thing? Purchase Lily’s chocolate bars (available on Amazon, Natural Grocer’s and many other stores) with whatever add-ins you like. They are significantly lower in sugar. Try gradually increasing the cocoa content of your chocolate. That automatically reduces the amount of sugar. Lily’s also makes semi-sweet baking chips … you can easily swap them for M&M’s.

For tacos, buy organic corn tortillas and use organic chicken, sustainably caught fish or grass-fed beef. Top with the cheeses above, add in organic sour cream …

Okay, I’ve got to stop. I’m getting hungry as heck. I’m going to cook some wings in the air fryer and toss a salad with my dressing. Oh wait! I promised you a salad dressing recipe. My kids simply call this Gramma’s Salad Dressing.

½ c Avocado Oil
½ c Olive Oil
½ c Apple Cider Vinegar
½ tsp Garlic Powder

½ tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Dried Parsley Flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a bottle (I use an empty GT’s Kombucha bottle) and shake. If someone in your family likes a creamy dressing, add organic cream to taste, but you’ll have to use it rather quickly. (Alternatively, just add it to that person’s salad.)

Healthy fast food is more than a myth. By taking control of the quality of the ingredients, you can still have your faves. Experiment with spices to find your perfect combo. Most of these can be prepped ahead of time, on a day that works for you, so that they become fast food at the end of a busy day.

If you liked this, please consider sharing it with your favorite fast food junkie. Then follow me so you don’t miss any other incredible, amazing, life-changing words of wisdom. 😉

You can find more ideas in my book, No Kale Required: Healthy Eating Ideas for the Rest of Us,and over on my website, www.enjoylifebewell.com

Aging is a gift, not a set of restrictions

Aging is a gift, not a set of restrictions

While looking for what’s happening in the Women over 50 space online I came across articles telling me what I can and can’t do/have/wear. Can I tell you how tired I am of people telling women over 50 what NOT to ____________? (fill in the blank) Haven’t we earned the right to wear ripped jeans, ride a skateboard or own a white wicker chair if we want? According to many of the articles I read, among several other things, we should not do those.

PFFFFFTT!!!

I don’t want to ride a skateboard. I did try it in my 40’s and quickly realized that I was not destined to rival Elissa Steamer for the championship, but might be first in line to help an orthopedic surgeon buy a new Beamer! (Steamer, Beamer … did ya see what I did there?) I did, however, recently buy a white wicker chair for my bedroom. It’s where I was sitting when I read that I shouldn’t have bought it, and where I am now writing this post.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is white-wicker-e1575909901592.png

I had just redone the colors, with a new set of bedding, a few pillows, and a couple of cans of spray paint, and realized I’d created a color scheme I’d been dreaming of for years. The only thing missing was a white, wicker chair. Within hours I’d found one on Facebook Marketplace, picked it up, and with the remaining can of spray paint it became the white wicker chair of my dreams … Voila! My dream room became a reality! It is bright, cheerful and makes me smile every time I walk in.

If skateboarding, princess ruffles, or ripped jeans make you happy, do it! To heck with what others say!

Aging is a gift, not a set of restrictions. We get to define what aging looks like … no one else! So, go outside and play or stay inside and read; wear all the makeup you want or none at all; color your hair or don’t; put boy band posters in your bedroom or go traditional; Embrace you!

Wellness is more than the food that you eat or the exercise you do. It’s about the whole of you. This health coach recommends surrounding yourself with joy & memories …

Love yourself!
NancyO

Nancy Oglesby Health Coaching would appreciate being considered for your next wellness program. Check here for testimonials and class ideas.

The Health Coach Learns a Thing or Two

AH HA!
Keep Learning!

As a coach, I am always on a quest to gain ever more insight into both personal and professional growth. So, recently I read the book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan and listened to over 30 episodes of Geoff Woods’ The One Thing podcast. I immediately recognized how their program would improve the outcome of my approach to wellness; Choose one thing to change, make it simple, do it until it’s a habit, then choose the next change.

The One Thing program added fuel to my One Simple Change philosophy! They recommend setting a time on your calendar when you focus only on that change, and track it for 66 days! Only then do you choose your next thing. They recommend choosing something that will make everything else easier or unnecessary. Just so you know, it’s often not the first thing you choose, but as you move through the process, an awareness grows and you wonder why you didn’t see it from the beginning! (No snickers from the peanut gallery when you hear my Ah Ha! moment!)

I journal every day. It’s been my practice for over ten years and has led me to new levels of self-awareness. However, it sometimes takes awhile. 😉 My first 66-Day Challenge was to plan what I’ll eat during the week on Saturday, shop and cook over the weekend, then each morning plan my day’s food by putting it into my tracking app. (I use Carb Manager, but My Fitness Pal works great as well.)

I printed out my 66-Day Challenge chart, stuck it on the fridge, and found some gold stickers … I was pumped! I started on September 1st and did it religiously for several days! Trouble was … I didn’t follow the plan!

Ah Ha! … I now have TWO 66-Day Challenge charts on the fridge: One is for creating the plan and the other is for FOLLOWING the plan! I now have gold stars on both, and the result? The weight loss stall that I was experiencing is over and I’ve added 3 pounds to the loss column!

I have to follow a low-oxalate, diary free, gluten free diet. I’m sure you can imagine that my food list is restrictive. Recently, despite my former edict that Keto was the devil, I decided that my food list would probably work best within the framework of a Clean Keto plan (I was close to it anyway) and it’s been working quite well for me. I don’t experience cravings, have tons of energy, no longer feel like an afternoon nap is necessary, my fasting blood sugar is in the 80’s (it used to be 102) and to date I’ve lost over 14 pounds.

More importantly is the sense of calm that I feel. The lack of cravings is totally unreal! I can sit with friends, surrounded by chips and salsa, bread on the table, or the most delectable-looking desserts and I DO NOT CRAVE THEM! I am no longer eating after dinner and that allows my body to rest better at night. I learned that I don’t need to be full or worried about the next time I will eat because my blood sugar is stable. I feel calm.

Speaking of going out with friends, there are Keto-friendly alcohols. Not that I indulge often, but a flavored vodka with plain soda water, dry white or red wine, or a whiskey on the rocks … yup!

In The One Thing, they compare your one thing to the lead domino … knock it down and all the dominoes behind it fall down seemingly without effort. Strangely, because of my one thing, creating a meal plan, I am better able to focus on everything else in my day. My office is more organized, my home is more organized, this blog got written … I do not feel like I’m crazy busy chasing things every moment. I know it sounds a little strange, but my entire being, mental and physical has relaxed. The dominoes keep falling!

Prior to Clean Keto and the One Thing, I ate a primarily Mediterranean Diet and when I tried to lose weight I was overcome with cravings and could barely move the scale. If there was a chip in front of me, I was going to eat it. I couldn’t stay out of gluten even knowing it wasn’t good for me.

Today, I eat better quality EVERYTHING, in the right proportions, and find it quite simple. I cook meals that I’ve always made, minus the heavy carbohydrates.

Oh, and I take my Juice Plus+ Blends every single day! Those capsules, brimming with over 30 varieties of fruits, berries and vegetables, add to my nutrition in such a big way … I would never go without them!

Here’s a sampling of my week: pastured organic chicken cacciatore, mashed cauliflower, broccoli with butter, wild caught salmon with butter, garlic and lemon, organic grass fed steak, organic grass fed meatloaf, cabbage soup made with organic grass fed ground beef, pastured organic chicken wings, blueberries and organic cream, homemade waffles with no-sugar-added ice cream, organic pumpkin seeds, raw coconut butter, and coffee with organic cream.

I’ll update you as I go along and let you know how things are progressing. I am hopeful that everything will continue to get better and better!

Would you like to learn more about how to identify your One Thing? Would you like to learn more about what diet might be a solution for you? Please fill out the contact form and I’ll get back with you.

You can get the book for free by listening to the podcast. You’ll get a PDF of the book by following the simple directions. Find it here! (Listen to the first episode and they tell you what to do.)

Best,
NancyO

Goals Planner

Willpower & Discipline … Ugh!

First, let’s talk about change. It’s hard! By the time we’re 50 and older, we’re darned stuck in our ways, right?!

In order to make changes last, we have to learn about how to effectively use discipline and willpower. In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller says what we need is a new habit, not discipline nor willpower. Toss in enough discipline for a short time, while the habit kicks in, and we won’t need to rely on it to continue the behavior. Think about it: You don’t use discipline to brush your teeth, make coffee, get out the door on your way to work, put on your seat belt or start the car and put it in drive. Why? Because they’re all habits!

As he points out in the book, “… who would want to be, ‘disciplined’ anyway? The very thought of having your every behavior molded and maintained by training seems frighteningly impossible on one hand and utterly boring on the other.”

Goals Planner
How many goals have you achieved?

What about willpower? Mr. Keller shares research stating that we have a daily reserve of willpower and over the course of the day, it is depleted every time we use if for something, regardless of how trivial. It’s a powerful thing, until it needs a nap! Kathleen Vohs, in Prevention magazine (2009) used the analogy of it being like gasoline in your car. Every time you start and/or run your car’s engine, you use some of your gas and eventually your tank is empty.

Willpower is the same … resist that donut at 8AM, the French fries at lunch, bite your tongue throughout the day, and when it’s 9PM and you’re relaxing … BAM! the ice cream or potato chips begin their siren call just when your willpower is at its lowest.

In The One Thing, Keller shares research showing that when our willpower runs out, we revert to our default settings. Understanding those settings is a step toward awareness but is not the answer. Managing our ‘tank’ of willpower is the solution. In the book, he points out several things that deplete willpower: Suppressing emotions, or impulses, restraining aggression, resisting temptation, trying to impress or doing something you don’t want to do. Some of those are obvious willpower guzzlers but taking tests and filtering distractions surprised me.

I understand that taking tests can be stressful, and as such, made sense once I thought about it, but filtering distractions was an AHA! moment for me. As someone with ADHD, I never realized how filtering distractions was one of my major guzzlers, leaving me exhausted! A couple of other things on the list rang true for ADHD as well: suppressing impulses and doing things one doesn’t enjoy are big challenges. Knowing that they guzzle willpower means scheduling them when the tank is full!

Other important factors in filling your tank include staying rested and healthy eating. Eating properly, and at the right time sets you up for success.

My willpower plan is to do important things first and try to set up meetings for later in the day. However, it rarely works that my mid mornings aren’t planned out, so when I get home in the afternoon, I take a 20-30-minute nap. (Alexa, set an alarm for 3:30!) That mental break, and energy charge, tops off my tank so that I can finish up the important stuff while still taking advantage of a reasonable bedtime.

There are so many planning tools available that finding one that works for you, studying your willpower’s timing and your focused needs, will probably require designing and redesigning your daily plan several times. Also, we change, and our priorities change, often leading to a new plan.

I highly recommend Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing. Read it, listen to it, work with it and see where it leads. There’s also a podcast and planning sheets. Check it all out here!

As always, I love giving presentations on wellness. Check out my offerings here, and check the calendar for what’s coming up. You can learn more about Juice Plus+ here for the simplest change!

Lifelong Learning

What Putting Together an IKEA Chair Can Do for Your Brain

Lifelong Learning

What does Lifelong Learning mean to you? Do you think of taking formal classes in person or online? Maybe you think of traveling and learning new customs and languages. What if I told you that every single day you are learning something, and when you get intentional about it, it expands and preserves your ability to think, create, form memories and hang onto them?

My mother always said that she’d always be of sound mind because she worked a crossword puzzle every day. While crosswords are great, if you’ve done one every day for 60+ years, it’s probably not much of a stretch for you. Now, if you tried to do Sudoku … that would be a stretch!

The key to keeping things fresh and exciting is to get yourself frustrated now and again. When I hear Boomers say that they have no interest in learning “those danged smart phones.” My response? It’s one of the best things you could do for your brain!” Getting out of our comfort zone and feeling stupid is exceptionally good for our brains as long as we push through.

Every time you push yourself to figure something out, like how to send an email, open an app, order from Amazon or send a text (to the right person), you are building new neuro pathways. For those who find technology easy, putting together a chair from IKEA or putting in a new doorknob or dead bolt might be the challenge. It’s about what’s new for you.

You know those things you do without thinking? Making the coffee, brushing your teeth, following the route to work or the gym every day? Maybe it’s the order in which you put on your pants or socks and shoes on autopilot. Well, here’s some happy food for your brain: change it! Yes! Move the coffee to another cabinet, put your toothbrush in a different space, choose a different route, and put the left foot in your pants first instead of the right!

Just like water, our brains use the path of least resistance, and that is the neural pathway that you developed early in life. According to Deborah Ancona, Professor of Management & Organizational Studies at MIT, “By the time we get to the age of 25, we just have so many existing pathways that our brain relies on, it’s hard to break free of them.”

When your brain is young, it’s much more flexible which makes it easier to learn, but even though we’re no longer 25, we can still learn, and doing so imparts great benefits. It’s about using your brain in new ways rather than the comfort of the pathways we created when we were young. If you use math regularly, but rarely read, you might want to build a habit of reading, and vice versa. If you love to read but aren’t comfortable delving into science or math, sign up for a class that pushes you to use your brain in a new way.

Building the new pathways doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we often take on a challenge, then quit when we are tired or too busy thinking, “I’ll just do this the easy way tonight because I had a stressful day.” The new neural pathway isn’t deeply ingrained to stick, so it becomes even harder the next day. If you want to build that pathway, support your brains youthful plasticity, you must persevere despite wanting to fall back into your comfort zone. (Sorry)

Many colleges around the country offer classes at a reduced rate. In some cases, there is a needs-based assessment, but often the only requirement is that you are 50+ years old. In Johnson County, Kansas the Community College allows those aged 60+ to take credit classes for $16/semester hour. There is a special enrollment date, and you have to have a current admissions application on file.

So, to wrap up, give yourself permission to explore something new and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight. Just keep at it … your brain will thank you!

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): It seems we all have a need to simplify, but how do we do that without losing the memories we’ve attached to our precious things? Check it out here!

And, if you’d like to check out what the blog is about, what categories I’m going to include, and why, check out the blog introduction here.

Let’s Simplify! The 50+ Downsizing Plan … Book of Memories

You’re over 50 so I know you’ve collected a few things in your life. You might be like my friend who has saved ticket stubs and playbills from every concert and performance she’s attended, you might have saved every dog collar or your children’s toys, or you might be like me and have some of your children’s artwork, a few of your parent’s items, jewelry or even furniture. There are also the things you’ve collected as well. For example, I have a peace dove necklace that was purchased in 1970 at the San Jose flea market.

The necklace has a story attached to it … everything we collect has a story attached to it, every ticket and playbill of my friends and every dog collar or child’s toy. You see, the things we collect mark our memories. But, and this is the important part, they aren’t our memories. With or without the item, we have our memories.

As you think about simplifying, consider leaving a book of memories. Your family might not be interested now but they, or the next generation, will be curious one day. I have a ceramic bull that was in my home growing up. It’s anatomically correct. (yeah, weird) I would love to know the story behind it, and the conversations it provoked, but I never will.

Our stories die with us. We can change that and simplify at the same time. A book of memories is a way to hold onto the memories, not the items. Not just holding onto them but sharing them. Imagine how free your space will feel when you give some of your things to your kids or grandkids. Don’t be surprised by what they don’t want. When that’s the case, donate!

If you are supporting aging parents, this is a great way for you to honor them and build their legacy. Ask them about the things they’ve surrounded themselves with, and if they’re having to consolidate, offer to create a book of memories for them.

Here is how I am creating mine. It is both on the computer and printed (put together in a binder with sheet protectors). If I get super motivated, I might send it out to be bound into a book, but for now, the important thing is to start recording. An excerpt:

This peace dove necklace was purchased at the San Jose Flea Market in 1970 when I visited with my friend, Gary.

I thought I was the coolest, hippy chick! The reality? I was a 21-year-old mom of a 3-year-old, living a very un-hippy life back in Mundelein, Illinois. (That miniature golf outfit … 100% polyester worn with dark suede Minnetonka moccasins!

But, my heart? Totally hippy chick!

You probably remember some of my favorite music:  Woodstock, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood, Revolution by the Beatles, and artists galore including, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, John Lennon and George Harrison. That list is endless! And of course, you couldn’t play with toy guns or soldiers and we had tie-dyed tees, black light love posters and India print bedspreads!

(When I put it all together, I’ll add more about Gary, but not for y’all.) 😉

When I no longer wear the necklace, I’ll be able to give it to one of my kids without regret, because the memory will live on in my book. I imagine myself, when I am less able to get out and about, and my space is much smaller, being able to bring out my book of memories. It will make me smile to know that my grandkids won’t wonder where the anatomically correct bull came from because that will be in there too.

What will your book look like? I’d love for you to share a story or two in the comments!

Here’s to Women over 50!

Introducing you to my blog’s new focus on the maturing woman, the woman in transition:

  • A new empty nester,
  • a widow,
  • a divorcee,
  • being downsized, or
  • flat-out fired or
  • none of the above.

Maybe you’re just looking for a reboot and you don’t even know why … Welcome!

What is it that happens to us when we hit that number? Maybe for you it was 50, for someone else it might have been 55 or 65. Whatever the age, every woman I’ve ever met, has an age where they start to reassess their life, and most importantly, the life they envision going forward.

Before I started, I wanted to know if I was on the right track, if I what I thought women wanted was even close. After all, I’m just one maturing woman, so I asked around. I asked on Facebook, LinkedIn and Next Door. I asked friends and colleagues. Here’s what they said:

  • peace of mind
  • even keel
  • simplicity
  • spiritual life
  • weight loss
  • worry and stress free
  • and the award for the most popular answer goes to, “A secret man that sneaks into the house and cleans while I sleep.”

I’ve identified a few categories that I think will cover most of it, but I’m happy to add to it if you think of something else:

  1. Emotional
  2. Physical
  3. Environment
  4. Spirituality
  5. Finances
  6. Relationships
  7. Social Life
  8. Lifelong Learning

So, we’re going to start the journey on Monday, July 22nd with a post from the Environment category: Simplify. I hope you’ll join me!

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