Tag Archives: outdoors

Intent of the Day: Get Outside!

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With weather warming up, now is a good time to mix up the old routine! Rather than work through all the daylight hours, we want to find new ways to enjoy the sunshine. Thanks to daylight savings, our days are a little longer so even after-work hours are in play if we really put our minds to it. We intend to get outside!

You too? Here are 3 ways to take advantage of the sunshine: Continue reading

Recharge Yourself Daily for Optimal Use

iStock_000002911722XSmallBy Jan Bruce

I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge—ever. No matter what phase of my life or career. I hold ambition, drive, and resilience high on my list of values, without question. But I’ve also experienced first hand what it is to drive too hard, demand too much from myself and others. There is a sweet spot between ambition and anxiety, the point at which you operate optimally. You know what that feels like: the adrenalizing challenge of being spurred on, but not so much so that you’re weighed down by exhaustion.

This is an ongoing challenge for me, and for you, I presume: Knowing when and how to push harder—and to back off. The key isn’t to just get bigger, tougher, stronger, nor is to eradicate stress (good luck with that!). It’s to recalibrate and recharge, which are often overlooked or postponed, until it’s too late. In fact that is why I’m so passionate about the work I do at meQuilibrium—because I believe there is a formula for managing your response to the world out there and the thoughts in here.

Given how connected and driven people are (or feel they need to be) these days, making time to rest can feel like slamming on the breaks when you’re going 70 miles an hour. Moreover, as we “work” longer and longer hours, the idea of taking time off to rest and recharge can become increasingly daunting, especially if this time off serves as a total contrast to our normal routines.

I love vacation, and I make sure to take them—but I, too, know the dread of walking away from your email, your desk, knowing it’s all going to pile up in your absence. If you’ve ever needed a vacation from your vacation, then you know what I mean.

It’s tempting to think that a day spent lounging in sweatpants, eating whatever you want and watching back-to-back episodes of your favorite TV series is the perfect antidote to six days of non-stop business. But instead of following the “feast or famine” framework of rest and effort, I challenge you to think about one little thing you can do every day to ground and renew yourself.

Case in point: My brother regularly pulls 12- to 15-hour days at his work, and I can’t remember the last time he took more than two consecutive days off, let alone the last time he had a vacation. I was always baffled by this. How did he keep it going without an escape?

I finally understood his secret when I visited him one weekday and observed his daily routine: He’s fortunate to live in a beautiful rural area and makes a point of spending a few hours outside each morning, swimming, running or just enjoying the solitude. In those few hours, he gets the benefits that most of us associate with a vacation: time unplugged, outdoors, away from the demands of the day.

Here’s the kicker, though: He does this every day, and that’s why the rest of his busy, high-pressure life is sustainable. For him, normal life and vacation cease to function as the two binary options for how he spends his time. Because he has found a way to get the benefits of a little vacation every day, he’s not caught between the competing pressures of rest and effort.

Stop thinking about rest as the opposite of effort and start thinking about it as the foundation of effort. What can you do every day to build in a little more relaxation or pleasure, to draw you out of the moments that wind you up and leave you so tight you feel like you might snap? It could be as simple as indulging in a really good latte every morning or a walk with your dog. Find something energizing to come back to every day or every week to help you to recharge without forcing you to disengage. You’ll be well on your way to finding a more sustainable balance.

Like this article? Follow these similar intents on Intent.com

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Jan Bruce is the CEO and founder of meQuilibrium.com 

The 7 Reasons Why I Choose Gardening for Health and Happiness

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 3.28.19 PMThroughout the ages gardeners have known the secrets to longevity and health. They were the roots of mind/body medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing the major wellness principles for both physical and mental health to be found in a garden. Being crazy busy sets us up for chronic stress which creates a tipping point for illness. However, nature reduces the inflammatory response of stress which is damaging to all our bodily processes and sets us up for unhappiness. So wake up and smell the roses!

Why I believe gardeners are healthier:

  • Gardeners get terrific exercise, a combination of cardio and strength training. They can lose track of time because they enjoy this activity as opposed to constantly checking the clock. Also, medical research claims that gardeners do not tend to get osteoporosis because they lift bags of soil and heavy pots.
  • Gardeners restore their natural rhythm outdoors and do not suffer from technology overload. In addition, the nature of gardening is to single task as opposed to multi-task, so they are alive and alert to the terrain and its inhabitants. Their focus is superb as they are present to what they are doing.
  • Meditation has been shown to forge new neural pathways in the brain to help with sadness, chronic pain and stress. For many people sitting still to meditate is an overwhelming and daunting process. However, gardeners engage in a moving meditation – a multi-sensory experience of the visual, fragrance and sound. There is serenity in a garden. When I had sciatica, I was focused on the pain and impatient with it. The only time I felt a respite was while planting flowers. Soon the intervals of being pain free increased while the pain dissipated and ultimately left. Creativity replaced destruction.
  • Gardeners experience firsthand the cycle of life. Plants die and seeds sprout. They realize that new buds and seedlings have no consciousness of the past as they grow toward the light. This is a life lesson of hope. In my neighborhood the white pines were so damaged by the salt water from hurricane Sandy that they looked dead, yet now they are starting to regenerate slowly – what a miracle! I can transfer this analogy to my personal life in terms of my own metamorphosis.
  • Gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables loaded with phytonutrients. I love eating vine ripened tomatoes and crisp cucumbers that have not been bombarded with pesticides and picked the same day. Fresh herbs season my salads. If you don’t have a piece of land dedicated to planting, then consider potted vegetables like cherry tomatoes and dwarf zucchini on a patio or terrace. And if your city dwelling place doesn’t have the space, consider working in a communal garden or neighborhood beautification project. There is also indoor gardening like window sills to consider!
  • Tap into the sunshine vitamin D which is transmitted by sunlight directly to your skin helping to release serotonin to improve your mood. Exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland to produce melatonin which plays a role in quality sleep, so that you wake up refreshed to start your day – without irritability.
  • Gardening makes you feel sexy. Playing in the dirt, warmed by the sun and watching the birds and the bees. Need I say more?

 

Photo credit: Flickr

Mindfulness in Public: Seren-i-Tea in the Square

This past Saturday, I was delighted to attend Seren-i-Tea in the Square, the free spiritual event organized by Intent.com with Sokenbicha Tea, held in San Francisco’s  Union Square. Our lovely Mallika Chopra led a meditation, and then one of my favorite yoga teachers, Stephanie Snyder, took us through a simple yoga series. 

I’ll admit that prior to the event, I had my doubts. I’ve never been interested in practicing my spiritual pursuits outdoors in a large, public forum. I frankly found the two concepts contradictory: turning inwards for my yoga and meditation, while being forced to confront the outer world of traffic, weather, and random spectators.

I was lured in by the participation of Intent.com’s founder, Mallika Chopra, and the fabulous Yumi Sakugawa, as well as Stephanie Snyder. And I’ll admit: the goodie bag filled with Sokenbicha tea and yoga mat, Manduka towel, and Whole Foods gift certificate definitely did not hurt when it came to motivating my butt to downtown SF on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

However, I was pleasantly surprised as I watched my judgment fall away the moment I sat down on my mat in the middle of the square. Luckily, it was a gorgeous day: the sun shone warmly on my face during meditation, with a light breeze to cool me off during the yoga practice. But best of all was my sense of participating in a much larger community than I usually do… At yoga, I connect with the same people week after week, with an occasional newcomer. At Seren-i-Tea in the Square, I ran into dozens of people from all walks of life – -older, in wheelchairs, new to yoga – -all eager to connect with their higher selves, all seeking peace and calm in the midst of their chaotic daily lives. I wanted nothing more than to support them by being there.

Finally, I enjoyed the event more than I thought I would because I felt the impact of our meditation and yoga on passersby. I saw how practicing my spirituality in such a public forum could have an instantaneous, real-world impact, perhaps even more powerful than my writing for this blog or the Huffington Post. Why? Because online, you read my words, and hopefully they inspire you. But out there in the real world, you might actually see all of us smile, hear us breathe in unison – inhale/exhale – and even sense, through emotional contagion, our serenity. That, I realized, might motivate people to give meditation and yoga a try after many years of wondering what the fuss is all about – more effectively than any amount of blogging or video sharing. It’s hard to deny when it’s there in front of you, and you have a visceral experience of it. 

So if you weren’t able to make it out to Union Square on Saturday, I hope you’ll consider taking opportunities to participate in such events in your home communities. Or heck, you could even create an event of your own! Help us spread the joy and peace that we’ve all tapped into at some point in our lives with the world at large. It’s so important. 

Back to the Future of Personal Training

When it comes to trends in fitness and healthcare, there’s more than I could count on a few pairs of hands – Weights, Aerobics, Triathlon Training, Swiss Balls, Resistance Bands, Vibration Plates, Yoga, Pilates, and the list goes on.

Do all of these work to get results for clients? Sure they do, but all in different ways with some gaining greater benefits than others. Many of these trends came and went, and many of them are still here. Some of them have been combined, like doing weights on Swiss Balls, and some of them have been modified and you now find “Hardcore Yoga” sessions in many gyms across the globe.

The evolution of my own training regimen and consequently the recommendations I give to my clientele has also varied over the years – Weights, “Body-Builder Type Training”, Exercise to Music and Body Combat, Swiss Balls, Sports Specific Training – until I realised that my most recent style of training had modified into a hybrid of many of the different styles of exercise I had learnt and had success with for my clients.

My clients are getting greater gains than ever before, in all areas, as am I. Plus, I am enjoying my workouts so much more because each and every one is different to the ones before it. Having spent a minimum of the last 10 years “exercising” at some level, and many years before that playing sports, I felt very bored with “typical” training routines and the gym in general.

The thumping music playing on loop, the air conditioning that never quite feels right, the mirrors that seem to distract more than help, the machines that have absolutely no function except creating injuries and possibly becoming a door-stop one day, the artificial lighting, the toxic materials the mats are made from, the clocks on the walls pointing at you from every direction. There’s a lot of things you notice in gyms when you’ve spent literally half of your life in them.

When I started noticing all of this stuff I started to train myself a little differently. It seemed like my evolution, as I keep calling it, had come full circle. Now, I remember the days of being a kid and running around the park climbing over obstacles, under obstacles and sometimes trying to make my way through them. If I analyse this now it was a pretty good workout routine I had back then. There’s not a muscle in your body that isn’t on the job when you’re running/jumping/dodging obstacles at a fast speed and at different directions. IS510-035Mix that in with a few trees to climb here and there and you build so much more variety into your workout. So much more than any gym could ever give you!

So, out I have been going into the wilderness – parks, forests, fields, urban, semi-urban, 100% natural – and have been working out. Knowing the body and the biomechanical needs of the body, I decided after a few random workouts to make this into a programme, something that could be followed by others if I chose to give it to them, and it has turned out to be very successful.

Each programme starts safely with a warm-up and a scientifically designed stretching programme based on a postural analysis, followed by a mixture of primal pattern movements (to mimick the needs of our primitive ancestors) and 42-16033672short, sharp bursts of cardiovascular work that once again builds on what we would have needed 10,000 years ago – If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!!!

Everything in between is quite flexible. I developed a concept after analysing hundreds of clients and their levels of stress and their circadian rhythms, based on flexibility within an exercise programme, rather than structure. For a modern world that is managed by it’s iPhone, diaries, and schedules, it is extremely liberating to walk on to the gym floor (or into the park/forest) and not know what you’re going to do next.

It’s very much a philosophy that might be more akin to Free Running where the Free Runner will pick a place in the distance and traverse all obstacles to get to it in the most fluid motion possible. My system of “exercising”, or movement pattern training, now has the flexibility of being in the present moment and saying, “Okay, today I am going to do this…” without know what it is prior. 42-16612443All the while keeping technique and form at the forefront.

So “Natural Fitness and Athleticism” seems to be at the core of this new system of movement, which also lends nicely to the overall holistic nature of my Vitality Programme’s that I use with all of my one-to-one clients.

With Natural being the buzz-word, it’s key to also take care of a person’s nutrition and lifestyle factors if they are truly aiming to become naturally fit and athletic – both in performance and appearance. CB068343Once again, we look back 10,000 years ago and think “What would our ancestors have eaten?” and this should give you a better picture of how far we have come from what nature intended for us to be healthy.

With diseases and injuries at an all time high it is fairly obvious that most of us are not living in accordance with Mother Nature and what was designed for us from the beginning. Unfortunately many have lost their way and lost touch with their intuition and knowing what is best for them.

This where a well experienced holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach can come in handy as there are systems in place to know exactly what people should be eating, and what changes they can make in the life to optimise their levels of load on the physiology and help to balance their neurology.42-15625353

Obviously now you can see that when fitness and health trends come and go, you can always come back to the basics, to the core of our existence: movement and breathing, nutrition, and stress management for a busy lifestyle.

“What will this help me with?” I hear you say: weight loss, body shape transformation, building a more muscular and lean physique, improving health and energy levels, understanding your mind better and dealing with your emotions – Yes to all of these, and many more.

The Future of Personal Training doesn’t have to “no pain, no gain” and artificial supplements and even more artificial gym surroundings. It can be fun, fresh and first and foremost can get results that will make you want to continue exercising and changing your habits for a life-time.

I offer everyone a free 15 minutes with me to discuss any or all of the above, and more and how it can work in your life.

If you would like to take me up on this no-obligation offer please contact me in one of the following ways:

  • By going to the Contact Section of this site and filling in your details.
  • By connecting with me through FaceBook.
  • By connecting with me via Twitter.
  • Or, if you are lucky enough to have my phone number, don’t hesitate to give me a call and we can have a chat there and then!

If you would like to get some more information before contacting me, please look around the rest of this site, or click on one of the two links below to get a little bit extra:

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Brett Sanders: Lifestyle Coach

P.S.

Stay tuned for the long-awaited outdoor exercise videos that I am currently shooting and will be releasing very soon!

This post was originally published on Vitality Health Hub – http://www.vitalityhealthhub.com

Formula For Happiness

 

Finally, someone says he’s found the key to happiness — it’s a formula that looks like this: O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He.



Welsh psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall devised the formula based on those things that tend to make us feel the best. O stands for being outdoors, N for connection with nature (how these first two are different exactly I’m not sure), S for social interaction, Cpm for memories of childhood summers, T for temperature and He for excitement about holidays. 



To determine one’s level of happiness on any given day, Dr. Arnall gives values to the symbols in his equation. Scientifically speaking, of course, this is, as they say over on Dr. Arnall’s side of the pond, a total load of bollocks.



But even from sociological and psychological perspectives, I see a couple red flags fluttering. First of all, can any true measure of happiness neglect the satisfaction we feel from giving and giving back? Secondly, I notice that this equation does not include coffee. Anyone else dubious about this?



Regarding the first point, I can’t imagine I’m the only kid who was excited about Christmas not only because I got to receive presents but because I got to watch my loved ones open the gifts I had carefully chosen for them. I doubt I’m unique in valuing a career path in nonprofits (or public service) because it gives me a sense of meaning and well-being to work for worthy causes and promote the social good. I believe it is not at all unusual to find a smile on your face after you’ve helped someone in need.



In fact, I don’t think it’s going too far to state that doing something that addresses the larger good (whether it’s giving up your bus seat for an old lady, donating a dollar to a worthy cause or spending your days working at a food bank) is essential to a fundamental sense of happiness. 



I therefore hereby modify Dr. Arnall’s formula thus: Happiness = (O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He) x G, where G stands for doing good in some way. 



I recognize that this means those who give and give back will be orders of magnitude happier than those who don’t. But that’s probably true in the end, or at least during the nervous breakdown when those with a low “G” score realize their ungenerous lives have no meaning. 



Oh, and about my second point, I must yet again revise: (O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He) x G + C, where C, of course, is caffeine.



My alterations to this formula have the benefit of adding more factors that we can control. One downside of the original formula is that we can only influence half of the factors in it (O, N and S). Subscribing to that formula would mean learning to appreciate the natural ebbs and flows of our lives instead of striving too hard for joy.



And that leaves little room for my search for the perfect latte.
 
By Katherine Gustafson of Tonic. For more latest news on good news, visit Tonic.com.

Ban the Crackberry! Mommy Greenest Checks Out

Last weekend I packed up the chemical-free bug spray (gotta love that citronella scent), zinc oxide sunscreen and four reusable shopping bags full of organic food and set off on a camping trip with six other families from my kids’ school. “Camping” is really a euphemism—the cabins we booked were more like hotel rooms, with refrigerators, full bathrooms and daily maid service—although we did cook over a campfire, scared away some skunks and endured nightly visits from inquisitive mice.

We’re all pretty tuned-in parents, so my eco offerings didn’t raise any eyebrows—though I was a little dismayed to find that even the families who packed their kids’ school lunchboxes with BPA-free, stainless steel reusable water bottles stocked up on cases of eight-ounce plastic water bottles for the trip. As I was filling up my glass as the tap in another family’s cabin, one of their kids pointed to the plastic and told me, “There’s clean water over there.” It drove home the point that most kids see tap water as “dirty” and bottled water as “clean,” when the reality is just the opposite. What ever happened to the good old-fashioned canteen?

But I digress. My goal for this camping trip was to tune out of work and tune into my family. Because although I write about sustainability for a living, the truth is that lately my life hasn’t been all that balanced. I work from home, so I can take my kids to school and throw in a load of laundry while still managing to meet my deadlines. But I’ve gotten so overwhelmed these days that I can’t seem to turn off the work part. I leave my office door open so I can pop in and check my email while my girls are in the bath. I bring my mobile phone downstairs to text with an editor while I’m making the pasta. I put the kids to bed, then write copy until midnight.

And I check email. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and the last thing I do at night. I check email in the car, on a walk, after yoga. I check email while talking to people. I check email while texting.
I noticed a few days ago that whenever I meet friends for lunch these days, we all put our phones on the tables so we can glance over as the messages come rolling in, and deal with whatever’s urgent. But what’s really so urgent that it can’t wait an hour?

So after interviewing Mariel Hemingway a few weeks ago and listening to her talk about “showing up” in our lives, I started looking at the amount of email checking I was doing. I thought about how many times my husband has begged me to just turn off the phone when we go away for a weekend. And I realized that our luxury camping trip provided the perfect opportunity.

On Friday morning, I cut the cord.

I gave myself some back up, of course. An auto reply included my cell phone number, should anyone need to reach me. And I did keep my phone on, though email free. But you know what? I didn’t miss it, and nobody missed me. I spent three days just hanging out with the Barnacle (read: baby) and the rest of the family and relaxing.

I came back to 200 emails, which I waded through for two hours on Sunday night. But nothing fell through the cracks. And this week, so far, I’m continuing to manage the addiction. The email function on my phone isn’t working, and I’ve decided not to fix it. I ate breakfast, took a shower, made lunches and read the paper before I checked my messages this morning.

I guess this stuff isn’t so urgent, after all.

What do you do to check out? Tell me about it.

virgin blog…

 

okay…here goes.. first blog ever.. spring has sprung in the soon to be gorgeous northeast where I live.  Right now it is pretty dismal out, but that is what leads to all the lush green fields and blooming trees and gardens.  

  I guess that says alot about life as well.  I have felt most of the winter in a less than stellar place,, but in the past 2 months.. a sort of blossoming is happen inside of me.  Change is slowly waking me up , from a place of stagnation and fear that I have held myself in.
  The last time I went thru major change it was traumatic and paralyzing to my soul.  THis time I feel I will be more prepared.  Taking small steps each day, meditating, visualizing, believing it is all happening for the betterment of mine and everyone else involved’s life.  These tiny seeds I plant by reading the right books, talking with the right people, putting self out there and taking the next step are creating the lush and beautiful garden of my future…
  Does anyone out there have an experience of change to share???
 

Go to the park.

Parks are green spaces that delight us and promote our well-being. Frequently, our tax dollars contribute to their creation and upkeep. These reasons alone should convince us to extricate ourselves from the things we imagine we must do and go to the park. Also, we’re best to do so keeping the purpose of parks in mind. That is to say, we could go to the park, laptop in tote, latte in hand, and bills to pay, but then we’d be missing the gist: delight and well-being. We should enjoy the escape these places offer, and seize the opportunity to acknowledge our oneness with nature (which is real, however atavistic it may feel sometimes). We underestimate the depths of pleasure and peace we can derive merely sitting among leaves and soil and grasses. Try it.


. . . And then hit the playground. “Pardon me?” you ask. “You mean that big tangle of ladders, slides, and monkey bars?” I mean that precisely. We’re paying for it, let’s enjoy it.
 
Start with the swings. (They may be the only things on the playground any longer remotely like those we had in our playgrounds as children).  Don’t hold back! Swing as high as you can, till the slack in the chains scares you. Then swing some more, because you’re a big kid, and you can.
 
Sadly, slides are not what they used to be. Plastics grip you more, slowing down the slide, and creates static. Nonetheless, it is wise to confirm this information for yourself.
 
Monkey bars nowadays aren’t nearly as massive or impossible seeming as when we were three- or four-feet tall. Conquer them in all the ways you imagine you can without breaking limbs.
 
One Rule: play nicely. Unless you’re at the playground during school hours, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter at least a few children. Remember, you’re a big kid, and little kids are scared of or defer to big kids. Be polite, don’t swear, and don’t hog any of the equipment (except, maybe, the swings).
 
If the beautiful, sprawling wilderness of the nearest regional forest can’t coax you from your keyboard, and if the finely manicured lawns and twiggy, young trees of the new housing development’s two-block refuge from pavement and walls fails to lure you from filing your coupons, then at least occasionally rediscover the playground. You might not discover inner peace, but you will at least discover your inner child (and laugh a whole lot, while you’re at it).
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