Bullet Journaling for Health

Taylor Miller's Bullet Journal Tracker/Buzzfeed
Taylor Miller’s Bullet Journal Tracker/Buzzfeed

Like so many others, I have jumped upon the Bullet Journal train. I started my BuJo (what die-hard fans call it) last year as a means of keeping art in my life while organizing the juggling of appointments, grad school, and managing a household. I’ve found my bullet journal to be the best way to be consistent in planning, because the blank pages provide a means for me to pick up where I left off and I can create the system I need when I need it rather than be locked into a planner with irrelevant trackers, boxes that are too small, and dates that are unforgiving if I take a month or two off (nothing is more demotivating than skimming through dozens of blank pages to get to today’s date – it just feels so wasteful!)

What we all call the Bullet Journal was created by Ryder Carroll and is a plain, streamlined system for organizing your life. You can read more about it here, as well as check out guest posts from Bujo fans who have gone to a whole other place in creatively organizing their lives.

This post is specifically regarding using a bullet journal for tracking your health. I use my own bullet journal to plan meals and track my supplements, exercise, coffee consumption, and any dietary tweaks I am focusing on at any given time. This allows me to stay connected to whether or not my supplement regimen needs tweaking, prevents me from becoming over-caffeinated, and note the effects of any dietary changes I am making.
Others use it to track medical symptoms, mood, keep a food log, or organize meal planning and medication schedules. The great thing about a Bullet Journal is it is tailored to you and your needs, and is effortless to change as your needs change. You don’t need a new journal – you simply need to turn the page and shift your focus!

Here are some samples of what can be done with a Bullet Journal:

Keep self-care options on hand for when you need them but are too frazzled to recall what works (photo@thebulletjournaladdict.com)
Keep self-care options on hand for when you need them but are too frazzled to recall what works. (photo@thebulletjournaladdict.com)

 

Track all your healthy habits to stay on top of your goals! Photo @bossgirlbujo/Instagram
Track all your healthy habits to stay on top of your goals! Photo @bossgirlbujo/Instagram

 

Sublimereflection.com has nailed weekly meal planning with this template!
Sublimereflection.com has nailed weekly meal planning with this template!

 

credit to @illustratedgrey-Via-instagram.com
Track meds, medical conditions and symptoms. credit to @illustratedgrey-Via-instagram.com

 

Stay on task with a healthy eating challenge like Whole30 or an Allergy Elimination Diet! credit @ashleytakestheworld/Instagram
Stay on task with a healthy eating challenge like Whole30 or an Allergy Elimination Diet!
credit @ashleytakestheworld/via Instagram

Do you Bullet Journal? What are some things you are tracking in your life these days? If you are curious about Bullet Journaling for health let me know and I’ll happily share more posts on the topic!

Calorie Counting: Legendary or Lame Sauce?

I’ve been around the nutrition and fitness circles long enough to see several trends come and go…and come back again.

Right now we are in what I believe to be the tail end of a phase that shuns calorie counting. My prediction is that in the next 5 years you will start seeing more and more people return to food logs and monitoring methods to get results because complete avoidance of logging and monitoring is not getting desired results.

[Tweet “Nutrition Prediction: a return to food logs and monitoring tools.”]

For most of my practice I have discouraged counting calories. I find the practice not only agonizing but detrimental, as it perpetuates a simplistic view of weight loss and drives disordered thinking and behavior. That said, I am also finding that strict avoidance of monitoring tools is too simplistic for some people and can impede results.

Some of my clients find that a weight loss plateau is quickly turned around when they start logging food intake. Most people choose to use an online calorie counting tool like My Fitness Pal or Calorie King whether or not they are looking at calories simply for ease of use. While they may be doing a stellar job at getting vegetables, fiber, and protein they may discover that their portions are yielding a total intake that is detrimental to progress. For instance, chicken breast has 35 calories per ounce while pork shoulder has nearly double that yet both hold similar protein amounts. This does not mean we need to avoid fattier cuts of meat, as some find them far more effective at preventing cravings. What it does mean is that just as we cannot lump all calories as being equal we cannot lump all foods within a group as being equal. This may be stating the obvious, but it’s easy to forget when focusing on a few simple guidelines.

[Tweet “Simplicity for the sake of implementation cannot be to the detriment of results.”]

Simplicity is highly desirable in this information overloaded world we live in. However, it must be taken as a starting point and not an absolute. If you find you are doing the right things and not seeing results, a first place to go may be a food log. If you have a history of self-judgment and recrimination you will want to do some mental prepwork and have a support system to help combat negative thinking. Consider yourself an anthropologist studying the eating habits of a newly discovered organism. Review your data with an impartial eye and look for possible foods that may be sneaking in and derailing results. Do you finish the kids’ dinner in addition to your own? Do you notice you eat past fullness? If nothing obvious stands out here, consider using MFP or Calorie King to monitor calories for 3-4 days. You may find the reason results are elusive is that there are fattier cuts of meat or the peanut sauce on your favorite zucchini noodle dish is way more than you ever thought it could be! Use the information as power to adjust portions or choose differently, not as a tool for shaming and judging.

If you are not yet mentally at a place where a food log feels like a safe and effective exercise, there are many other ways to increase mindfulness and determine if there is an unconscious behavior inhibiting success. Read more here:

The Importance of Mindfulness

 

Best Health Apps of 2012

Sleep Cycle – This iPhone app sounds amazing! It actually monitors your movement and uses this data to determine an appropriate time to wake you so you are not in deep sleep. I’ve heard first hand accounts of its effectiveness, and is very highly rated. To learn more, and purchase this app, click here.

Android users do not have this app available, but Sleep as Android is available. I downloaded the trial of this app and tested it out – it very effectively measures movement in the bed as an indicator of depth of sleep. Data collected showed what percentage of my sleep was ‘deep sleep’, the average amount of sleep debt I accumulated each night as well as total sleep debt during the course of the trial. Using this app I discovered that some reliable, consistent factors that were inhibiting sleep and used the data to make some changes. There is now an add-on for $1.79 that is called Sleep Stats and has more in-depth tracking as well as advice to gain more deep sleep. Well worth checking out if this is a concern for you.

my Fitness Pal – I hate calorie counters. Like nearly all other food trackers, My Fitness Pal focuses in on the archaic “calories in, calories out” model (which is really dieting and which we all know doesn’t work). This is the most comprehensive app I have found, however, for tracking food intake, water and exercise intake. What I would LOVE to see is the ability to adjust the nutritent ratios on the app so that I can focus more on protein and carbohydrates rather than calories. The only reason I was compelled to download this to test it out is the scanner option that allows you to scan the barcode of that food bar or box of cookies you just picked up to add it to your daily food log. That saves oodles of time searching through a comprehensive database on the phone, and consequently makes this app a winner. My advice: log your food, water and exercise as a tracker, ignore the calorie warnings, and use the info you gather to meet your goals. By clicking on the “daily” assessment you can take a look at a pie chart which gives you a breakdown of your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake by percentages, which I find much more useful. Because the app syncs with an online site, you have the ability to use the information from your PC and laptop as well as print out your logs. Click here to download MyFitnessPal for an Android phone, and click here to download it to your iPhone

Out of Milk – I am using this all the time – I can keep track of what’s in my pantry, what I need to purchase, AND create additional lists – to do lists for business, restaurants to try out, movies to see, etc. The big sell on this is you can scan the barcode of an empty box to add it to your shopping list AND sync your list with your partner’s or email it to him or her so that you both don’t go to the store and double up, or you can make sure everything on the grocery list gets purchased! There is also an option to set reminder alarms for those items on the list, move things between lists, and see what you previously had on your grocery list so you have a running idea of frequent purchases, as well as their cost. Price: FREE, with $1.99 for an upgrade that allows online syncing and back-up, list sharing on multiple devices, and a coupon tracker. Out of Milk is free, then click here to upgrade to Out of Milk Pro for Android users. Apple users, fret not – Out of Milk is developing an iPhone app; in fact, they are looking for beta testers if you want to be one!

Period Tracker – I have been using this app for over a year, and can subsequently geek out on knowing the exact day and length of my menstrual cycle. This tracker also allows you to log mood changes and PMS symptoms, weight, and body temperature and uses the last three cycles to fairly accurately determine your upcoming cycle date. This is PERFECT for what I call “PMS amnesia”, or that time of the month when you don’t know why you’re so cranky and irritable and sensitive…until you know EXACTLY why. 😉 It is also an excellent tool to monitor your fertility to prevent or facilitate pregnancy.

Back in the day, when we just had calendars, my mom taught me to track my cycle by putting little flowers on the calendar when my cycle began. Seeing the flowers bloom on this app reminds me a little of that, and endears me to this app even more. My only request of Period Tracker: that it also track the lunar cycle so women can begin to see how the lunar cycle corresponds to their own menstrual cycle. Click here to download Period Tracker on the ‘droid for free and click here to download it from iTunes!

There are tens of thousands of health apps on the market now – these are just a few I have come across that I believe offer great value and have proven useful to me personally. What are YOUR favorite health apps? I’d love to hear what else is out there, especially for iPhone users, since I have less exposure to those apps. Comment below and share which apps you find most useful!

Are you a Tasmanian Devil, an Ostrich, a Squirrel, a Donkey or an Elephant?

We don’t get through life without having a few good ‘A-ha’ or ‘Come to Jesus’ moments. Sometimes it’s little things, like the first time the bagger at the grocery store calls you “Ma’am” or you realize you aren’t being carded at Happy Hour anymore. Sometimes they are whoppers – like the realization that your marriage is not going to work, that the person you’ve become was the very person you feared of becoming, or that your job is actually the very thing that is making you ill.

There are many responses to these moments of what Laurel Mellin refers to as “essential pains”. An essential pain is that moment when you face the fact, see what is, and have a negative response to it. That pain piece is usually because we have attachments to things which are at odds with what is directly in front of us.

“I thought we would be together forever.”

“I told myself I’d never get above 180, and look at where I am!”

“I let him hit me because I believe I’m not worth better than this.”

“Oh look, here I am again eating leftovers at 2am! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS?!?!”

 

A lot of times, our impulse is to get angry, and like the Tasmanian Devil from the Warner Brothers cartoons, we become outwardly destructive with others in our frustration or take that anger inward and beat ourselves mightily for our mistake. If the pain feels like it is more than we can deal with we may turn around like a squirrel and skitter off in the opposite direction or refuse to do anything but stand there, immobilized like a donkey. Sometimes we turn to denial and try and forget by sticking our head in the sand like an ostrich and pretending nothing was discovered.

they-told-me-i-could-be-anything_o_212138

The discomfort we call pain can be a powerful motivator, if we know what to do with it. It’s what brings most people to my door – a realization and a tipping point where they are ready to make different choices for themselves, but aren’t sure quite how.

There can be a long valley between the realization and the action, but I have found personally that the following tips, practiced over time,  turn that valley into a small crack in the soil that you can very easily step across.

  • Ask, “what is the unreasonable expectation here?” This comes straight from “The Pathway” by Laurel Mellin, a fantastic book with very clear steps to unite the logical mind with the more tumultuous emotional mind. It was very helpful for me in allowing myself to experience anger and in working with my emotional eating. Knowing that pain is caused by a refusal to accept what is, we can then surmise that we have an obstacle to what is – an expectation that is not reasonable, given the current circumstances. Keep in mind, it needn’t be logical or rational, it is what it is. Examples: “I have an unreasonable expectation that I can neglect to eat all day and have willpower at night.” “I have an unreasonable expectation that I should stay in this relationship because he needs someone to love him and I’m the only one.” “I believe that I deserve these donuts because I had a bad day, and I keep telling myself that even though they make me feel worse…oh wow, I believe I deserve to feel bad.” “I believe if I say ‘No’ that makes me a bad person.”

Knowing our unreasonable expectations gives us awareness to where we are at odds so that we can make changes. Sometimes these awarenesses are as painful, or moreso, than the actual discomfort. It is very hard for rabbits and ostriches to stay engaged if this happens. I tend to be donkey-like (this stems from perfectionist tendencies – if I make a move, I have to make sure it is the right one! Otherwise – DON’T DO A THING.) and have spent months in paralysis while letting go of what my Ego told me I needed to be in order to be loved and accepted in the world. This is where the second tool comes in:

 

  • Cultivate Compassion.

 

This is what turns the ostrich into the elephant (funny analogy, no?). It is going a layer deeper and forgiving ourselves for our mistakes and bad choices. It is the top layer of our Ego that has adopted the unreasonable expectation, but the layer underneath that which tells a story of ‘knowing better’ or ‘deserving it’ or whatever excuse we use to keep us stuck is Ego as well. When I say Ego, I refer to the adopted and created stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we should/shouldn’t do, etc. It contains both healthy and unhealthy beliefs about ourselves, who we are, and how the world works, though in this instance I refer to the latter aspects of Ego.

Here are some simple tools to bring yourself compassion:

  • Remember – you ALWAYS do the best you can in any given situation, with what you know and what you have at your disposal.
  • What would someone who loves and cares for you unconditionally say to you about this situation?
  • What would you tell a close friend or small child about this situation?

 

When we are living in a state of compassion and awareness of our past choices and their contribution to the present, it is usually easy to make a change. The drama and the story is gone and it becomes about making a course correction in your life to get to where you want to be. When we let go of shame and anger and “shoulding” all over ourselves the answers often appear very easily and readily, making action clear and decisive.  We move like the elephant, unobstructed by a crack in the soil or a dense thicket because we embody our grandness and our ability to move through what is in the way. We pull our head out of the snow and continue the journey towards Happiness, which is our true home.

 

A New Perspective on Failure

There is a common theme in my weight loss clients; they tend to be very demanding of themselves. In their eagerness and their determination to achieve an ideal physique and greater health, they often run into great pains when specific goals are not met during a specific time frame, or when a plan that was set up in a session did not go over well.
Take W., a client who was on a weight loss journey of about 35 pounds. When we first began, we created a realistic goal of 6-8 pounds of weight loss per month – based on her efforts and her past experiences with weight loss.  Towards the end of her second month, a parent fell ill and she had to take on additional family needs.  Her weight loss slowed and she expressed her anger at herself in a session, chastising her inability to get in workouts despite the added stress, sleep deprivation, and hours of adult care that were taking place.

She took this a failing to her commitment to herself.

But all ‘failure’ needs to be is an opportunity to assess our expectations. Are they realistic? Are they achievable? Have circumstances changed that now make it unreasonable? If a client is unable or unwilling to follow through with an agreed upon goal for the week or month, all it tells me is that we have created an unreasonable goal.

  • Sometimes we take off more than we can chew.
  • Sometimes we don’t see obstacles before they show up and get in the way!
  • Sometimes we discover that a goal doesn’t work for us only when we begin to test it out.

Whatever the cause – that lack of completion tells me we need to re-assess and find something more suitable. There is no reason why the road to your ideal body cannot be lined with stones of success all along the way.

Successful weight loss, or success in any endeavor, entails finding appropriate mini-goals en route to the larger, over-arching aspiration. These mini-goals determine each person’s unique path to success, and are intended to be adjusted and altered along the way. Life, and our body, is never static – why would we expect our dietary protocol or exercise regimen to be this way?

The clients that experience the greatest success capitalize on their determination and use it to work hard and stay committed, but they also have the self-reflection and inquisitiveness necessary to explore what it happening within their body, what their cravings mean and what their triggers are. We work together to discover their unique physiology and blueprint for success by uncovering the language and wisdom of their bellies and memories and cravings. When something goes wrong – it becomes an opportunity to learn more about what works best … each ‘failure’ is really a closer step to success.

 

Weight Watchers Faces Reality: “Calorie Counting has Become Unhelpful”

FINALLY! It appears that the calorie counting method of weight loss is gasping its last shallow breaths. With such a weight loss icon as Weight Watchers – nearly 50 years old – changing their tune, the country will soon be looking at food in a newer, healthier way.

Click here to read more from the Time magazine article:

My thoughts – definitely an improvement, I’d like to learn more and I disagree that fruit should be free (yes if health is the objective, no if fat loss is). I think Jennifer Andrus’ comment about a calorie is a calorie is factually correct, but for purposes of health and fat loss, absurdly inappropriate to come from the mouth of a nutrition professional. Fat loss is far more complex than the units of heat we ingest (calories). Consuming sugar causes hormonal releases in the body that promote fat storage, while consuming protein does not. Yes, you can gain weight by consuming too many calories of any food, but to lose fat effectively, one must be discriminating in determining where one’s calories come from.

Stressed? Looking for Greater Joy in Your Life?

I first learned about the Solution Method about 4 years ago from a colleague of mine. I was fresh into my practice and yet still struggling with how to best help others when my own relationship with food and stress was a struggle. I noticed I still had a tendency to stress eat, despite all the knowledge I had gained over the years. I look back now and think, “Of course I was! A college education does not negate the emotional response to food!” I was seeing this mirrored in clients as well, who despite my efforts in nutrition education were missing a radical piece of self-care that is key to changing one’s relationship with overeating.

I began the work in a final attempt to come to peace with food and to learn a new way of coping with life so that I did not turn to bowls of popcorn and tortilla chips, chastise myself for it, and repeat the habit the next time I was overwhelmed. What I gained from devoting myself to learning it over the following two years was profound.

  • I became more in touch with what I was feeling and more clear in expressing myself.
  • I was able to see the pattern and break it before I engaged in it. When I did engage in it, I recovered more quickly and compassionately than I ever had been capable of before.
  • My ability to work within the stresses of day-to-day life skyrocketed-now there is very little panicking, getting frustrated, or feeling trapped! 
  • I witnessed others doing the work with me also experience greater calm and joy in their lives as they became well-versed in their internal world and learned to choose different responses.

The numerous small and large ways in which it has affected me cannot be measured. My heart is lighter, I can laugh at myself more, and I have come to peace with how much of life has unfolded.  Last year I began training to become a provider for this Method myself, so that I can share these skills with others who are looking for less stress and greater joy in their lives.
With so much seemingly out of control these days, having an internal safe haven is paramount to getting through the rough patches with our hair and wits intact!

I encourage you to learn a bit more about the Method, and look for more information on telegroups and individual coaching from VIBRANCE to appear in the next few weeks. Wired for Joy, the 6 week introductory course to the Solution Method, will begin in early May.
If you are interested in registering for Wired for Joy or wish to begin individual coaching now, please contact me at aimee@vibrance.dev or by calling 206-227-1231

For more information on Developmental Skills Training and the Solution method, please click here and here.

I also highly recommend the book The Pathway, by Laurel Mellin – developer of the Solution Method.

Got the Winter Blues? Nourishing Ideas for Seasonal Affective Disorder

asleep at desk

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real and common winter phenomenon. Historically we have called it the “winter blues” or “cabin fever”.

Lack of sunlight hours in the winter months have a very strong and real impact on our physiology and contribute to SAD for a multitude of reasons. The farther north one lives, the more likely one is to drive to work or school in the dark, sit in a building all day with artificially lighting, then drive back home afterward in the dark. Just thinking of that is a little depressing!

I grew up in Alaska and experienced severe seasonal affective disorder from the age of 14 until I moved away at 22. It is what prompted me to get involved in exercise as I found vigorous activity to offer some relief from very debilitating depression. There were months where I saw very little to no sunlight because it was too cold to be outside or I would be sitting in windowless classrooms all day. Those of you who know me personally know I have a fairly strong response to cold, wintery behavior. This is partially in response to associating winter with such extreme emotional despondency. At the time, all that was offered as a remedy was the new and exciting SSRI’s that Eli Lilly and other companies were manufacturing. I tried most of what was available back then at least once with varying degrees of relief.

Initially, I would like to say that a decrease in energy and vigor in the winter is PERFECTLY NORMAL. The world around us – plants and non-migratory animals – go into a state of dormancy or hibernation. Like them, we are an integral part of this cycle. Winter is a time of rest and reflection so that we have the reserves required for spring and summer’s bustle of activity. Before Edison brought us the light bulb, days ended earlier and nights consisted of stories, knitting, or card games by fire or candlelight.

In our disconnection from nature’s cycles we have asked our body to continue with high productivity month after month and year after year. Our rest comes in the form of sick days and paid vacations. It is out of rhythm with the greater cycle we live in. This is, I believe, part of the reason why this condition has become both so prevalent and so debilitating.

Over the years, I have found some non-pharmaceutical solutions to the winter blues. I am eternally grateful for exercise, the accidental discovery that gave me something to work with during my adolescence become an integral part of my life and career. Leaving Alaska eliminated my seasonal affective disorder. Rainy PNW days don’t bother me a bit!  I have also found other tools over the years which have been of benefit to clients and others who suffer:

  • Light Therapy: Sunlight affects our mood and energy by encouraging production of both melatonin and serotonin through messages sent from the retina to the brain. “Light boxes” simulate the intensity of sunlight on a clear spring day and can help normalize mood and sleep. I’ve also had clients benefit from dawn simulators to help with waking up in the morning.
  • Taking Breaks during daylight hours: If you work in an environment which has little access to natural light, be sure to get out for 10-20 minutes a day while the sun is still up. It’s amazing how much of a boost a brisk walk can do mid-day.
  • Get thee to thy local gym! If the weather is too crummy to be outside, get into the gym for three hours a week. The time you take for this will be returned in increased productivity, better moods, and decreased illness. Lift weights, watch the news while taking a brisk walk on the treadmill — just get your heart pumping and your blood moving. If you need accountability an experience, certified personal trainer or get an exercise buddy can help you out. If you are more internally motivated, post a visual representation of what happiness means to you in a place you will see daily.
  • Omega-3’s: A natural part of many diets in far-northern countries are high-doses of omega-3 fats from marine life. Cultural and laboratory studies demonstrate marked improvement from or absence of depressive symptoms when high doses of omega 3 fatty acids are consumed regularly. Dosage is dependent on symptoms; speak to a health professional knowledgable in nutrition and brain health for your specific needs.
  • Expect Less of Yourself: This has been my most recent change and has really made a difference. Knowing that I am not separate from the natural world around me has given me permission to slow down a bit from November through February. I do not expect as much from myself, I do not push myself and I allow more time for soothing, restorative activities: cooking, reading, having tea with loved ones, sleeping in a little more on weekends, and so on. Traditionally a Type A, this shift has taken some time to embrace but now that I have there is less struggle and stress in the winter months. Keep your appointment book a little more open for downtime, get a massage, sit in a cafe with a friend you’ve been dying to catch up with and re-connect.
  • Monitor Yourself: Keep tabs on how you are doing. If you are trying to wean off of medication, make sure you have professional support to ensure a smooth transition. If you find that coming off of medication is not an option, the above suggestions can still be of benefit to you. Implement them as a means of not just surviving SAD, but moving through the season gracefully and pleasantly. You are not alone; upwards of 10% of northern populations experience symptoms. If you find your symptoms are severe, please shore up support from loved ones, have a quality mental health professional on speed deal, and make a contract with others to reach out if things become too much. You are more valuable and loved than you can possible imagine.

I’d love to hear about your own personal experience with the winter blues and how you have worked with this season to stay happy, whole and healthy. Your ideas and suggestions may offer relief to someone struggling. Please comment below and share your experiences.

More Information:

Feeling depressed? Get free help now. Text CONNECT to 741741 in the US.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Exercise and Depression
Omega-3-for-depression
http://www.mcmanweb.com/omega3.html
Light Therapy Products and SAD Information

 

This post has been updated and republished in loving memory of Stacy Aviva Solomon. You will always be cherished and missed.

The Magic List: Creating What You Want

When I was 17, I sat down and wrote what I wanted my life to turn out like. I envisioned how I would be as an adult. I don’t recall much of what I have written now. I know there was a desire to exercise for the sheer joy of feeling my body move, coming to peace with food and ending my then-daily struggle with overeating. I knew how to garden. I envisioned sunlight, joy, and having a career in nutrition, which was my passion. I put the paper away in my hope chest. It was 1996.

Fast forward to 2004.

I am divorcing my husband and moving to a new apartment because of a mold issue in the basement unit I am in. I have just started my business after graduating from Bastyr University with a  degree in Nutrition and a minor in Exercise Science. While packing, I stumble across a piece of paper I had written when I was 17.  As I read it, I recall my heart swelling with both awe and joy — these ideas I had fantasized for myself so long ago were mostly a reality now! I was about 80% there (but still did not know how to garden). It was absolutely amazing.

That was my first conscious realization of the power of manifestation, or to the power behind making a Magic List. I have since utilized this tool to bring forth more of what I want in my world and do so now with greater intention. I am in a place now where I am devoting time to learning to garden, delving more into herbs and healing plants and spending daily efforts becoming that strong, self-assured woman that seemed so far out of reach when I was a teenager. Having completed many of my goals in this fashion, my lists these days delve into deepening existing accomplishments, tinkering with mastery of new skills (how do I make compost?), and drawing people into my life who embody the kinds of relationships and associations I want to cultivate in my world.

This is an exercise I like to do with my clients as well. It takes many forms, from writing a specific goal list embedded with emotion and intention to free-flow creative writing on how one would choose to live life if there were no limitations and total support.

To make your own magic list, you can refer to the article behind this link (from Oprah Magazine) or sit down in a quiet space and write what you most want from this world. It is especially important when doing this exercise that you hold no limits or judgments on your desires. This is “play” in a sense — all there is is possibility and wild imagination. Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what your eyes see outward and what you tell yourself in your internal world.  So if you tell yourself that you want to learn to garden, take up piano, have a relationship with a partner that is loving, honest, and is wickedly talented in the kitchen your subconscious mind will say — “Okay! Let’s make that work!” Likewise, if you tell yourself you are fat, stupid, and there is never enough money your subconscious brain will find ways to validate that experience for you. You will bring people into your life who are patronizing and do not respect you, weight loss will be non-existent and unexpected financial crises will show up as your subconscious mind says, “Okay! Let’s make that work!”

But that is another post.

As you write your list or tell your story of your life in the future, notice the sensations that crop up in your body. There should be a sensation of excitement, moving forward, reaching for your future. Fear, hesitation and disbelief are counterproductive and will not create what you want. Fluffy, superficial goals will remain unfulfilled, because your soul is not fluffy nor superficial and you were not put on this planet to do superficial things.  When you create a life of intention and live your passion, you create positive energy that emanates from you and attracts more of what feeds you. It is a classic positive feedback loop. We have all met someone with sparkling eyes, a dazzling smile and radiant energy that drew us in and captivated us. This is available to each and every one of us. Write of the things which excite you, pull you forward, and stimulate the small voice within to say, “Yes! This is what I want!”

Then put it away.

It is not your list to agonize over, to diligently check off when a task is accomplished. It is not something for the conscious mind to tinker with. Set the paper aside, bury it in the backyard, put it in an envelope at the back of your underwear drawer. Your subconscious mind will have embedded these instructions and seek to make them so.

If all this seems too far-fetched for you and you are rolling your eyes at me, then please do not do this exercise. You will simply prove your inner skeptic right.  If you have an inkling of hope or inspiration, go for it. You may be surprised!

To the skeptic – write down 2-3 things that you want to get out of the remainder of 2008. An extra $200, a new phone, getting to work on time instead of 5 minutes late or a solution to those nagging skin splints. Put it away and look at it again in January of 2009.  Just to see.

Having just began my third decade on this planet, I have sat down to write some new magic lists. Now that I have the experience of seeing the power behind this exercise, all I have to do now is sit back and watch the magic unfold.

For More Information:

Beck, Marta. The Truth about Magic Lists. Oprah magazine online

Vicente, Mark. Chasse, Becky, dirs. What The Bleep Do We Know!? Perf. Marlee Matlin and Elaine Hendrix 2004. DVD

Wolf, Fred Allen. Mind Into Matter: A New Alchemy of Science and Spirit Moment Point Press, 2000

How to Find Grass-fed Food Sources:

Eatwild has a comprehensive database of grass-fed food sources in both the US and Canada. I utilize them as a resource when I am traveling, searching for options for clients, or investigating options I find on local menus.

Aside from being a fabulous resource, they also offer educational articles on why grass-fed is a preferable option, have a small store of books on farming, food, food politics, and cooking gadgets. It’s a site worth bookmarking for future reference!

To find local suppliers of grass-fed products in your area, click here: