Month: November 2014

How to Do Gratitude Right…Because Chances are You’re Doing it Wrong

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~David Steindl

One of my favorite things to do is ride the subway. That’s kind of an odd statement, especially if you’ve ever play-enacted a sardine in a can during rush hour, or had the heel of a street performer come within an inch of your face while he’s attempting gymnastics on a moving train car, but let me explain.

I think of the subway as this “in-between place”. There are very few distractions and for that reason it’s one of my favorite places to think.  If you sit still (if you are lucky enough to get a seat) and look at all the faces around you, you can see such diversity, so many walks of life that have come together in one place, at least for one moment. It’s a perfect place to practice seeing everyone as one entity. It’s a great place to practice loving everyone and it’s a really great place to practice forgiveness.

A week ago I was riding the subway and I remembered that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. I got to thinking about oneness and gratitude and a wild idea crossed my mind. I was born into a middle class family in suburban Long Island…that wasn’t the wild thought: this was-If we are all one, then I could have been born anywhere as anyone. I could have been born in the slums of India, or the Alaskan wilderness. I could have been French or German or Polynesian. It may seem silly, but if you really think about it, it’s kind of trippy. We all could have been born into completely different situations.SplitShire_9954

And in that moment I was extremely grateful. I was grateful for my life, my home, my opportunities. If I had been born into any other situation I would find gratitude as well, but I think that too often it’s easy to get caught up in what we don’t have. For that particular moment I was so grateful for what I do have.

It’s almost too easy to focus on what we don’t have and as a result we find ourselves living in an “If, Then” world.

“If I get this job, then I will be happy.”

“If I get this house, then I will be happy.”

“If I lose this weight, then I will be happy.”

One of my favorite authors and the leading expert on self-love, Robert Holden says it best. “Some people chase happiness and some people chose happiness. It all depends on how much time you want to save.”

Isn’t that great!?

It’s so true, and the same goes for gratitude.

Like happiness, gratitude isn’t found outside of us. It doesn’t appear when we get what we think we want. We have to exercise it like a muscle. We have to find it in every day situations…like riding the subway.

Gratitude is a direct path to happiness. I’ll take it one step further and say that gratitude is a direct path to joy.

I realize that the subjects I love to write about are often a bit up in the air, and I am a pretty grounded person, so I always want to leave you with an actionable takeaway that is both grounded and practical.

To cultivate gratitude, there is no better technique than journaling. And you may have heard of writing down 5 things you are grateful for every day. You may even have tried it, but what if I told you that you are doing it wrong?

There is a powerful, proven method that has been found to be extremely effective at cultivating gratitude. To do it, pick one thing you are grateful for. Now, write 5 sentences detailing why you are grateful for that particular thing. As my girl-crush Marie Forleo puts it brilliantly, “the dividends are in the details.”

downloadJust writing 5 things you are grateful for is too vague.

“I’m thankful for my parents.”

When you write WHY you are grateful, you have a much more powerful experience of gratitude.

“I’m thankful for my parents because they always encouraged me to reach for my dreams.”

“They taught me every lesson they thought would help me succeed in life.”

“They loved me even when I was a moody, devil-of-a-teenager.”

“They gave me things that they never had in life.”

“They showed me what a strong, loving 45 year marriage looks like.”

Much more powerful.

So give it a try.

Gratitude is the simplest and the most powerful tool I know to transform your life. Make it a daily practice and watch what happens. I guarantee that the quality of your life will instantly improve, and the best part is that more grateful you are for the things you have, the more things to be grateful for enter your life.

Let me know what you are grateful for in the comments below, and be specific!

Have a safe and very happy Thanksgiving everyone!

xoxo,

Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good~Better~Best: Milk Alternatives

Hey loves,

These days my personal training textbook doesn’t leave my side. I really wish it was lighter! I’ve been studying wherever and whenever I can-on the subway, at home. In fact, I’m at work right now. My shift starts in an hour and I’m taking a break from studying to write this post.001

I’m not worried about passing, but I know the more prepared I feel, the less nervous I will be come test day.

I came across some interesting information while studying that I thought I’d share with you. Apparently exercise only accounts for 20% of our daily energy expenditure. About 70% goes to resting metabolic rate, which is energy expended during rest and used for things like circulation and tissue repair and the last 10% goes towards digestion.

I find this interesting because it goes with my motto of living by the 80/20 rule. In this case, 80% of your weight-loss comes from diet and 20% comes from exercise.

I think a misconception that a lot of people fall victim to is the notion that if they work out hard then they’ve burned off a huge amount of calories and they have a free pass to eat a ton later.

The fact is that no amount of exercise will make up for a shitty diet. Think about it this way: a pound of fat consists of 3,500 calories. Running a marathon burns approximately 2,600 calories. Would you rather run a marathon or eat a little cleaner? Which seems easier?

Another 80/20 rule I subscribe to is eating healthy 80% of the time and leaving 20% wiggle room for treats and unplanned indulgences. For some people, this means eating clean all week and treating themselves on the weekend. I personally can’t wait for the weekend. For me, it means the majority of my meals are squeaky clean and I enjoy a cookie or piece of chocolate with my coffee in the afternoon, or some ice cream for dessert.

It’s all about finding what works for you.

 

Now, onto the first installment of Good~Better~Bestrp_PicMonkey-Collage-1024x1024.jpg

Today we’re talking milk!

In recent years there has been a big shift away from cow’s milk because of its health implications. The majority of people cannot digest cow’s milk properly and it is one of the top food allergens along with wheat and corn. If you notice you get bloated or gassy after eating dairy products you may have a problem digesting it. There is also evidence that milk actually leeches calcium (which is alkaline) from our bones to balance out its acidic structure. It’s been shown that nations with the lowest cow’s milk consumption also have the lowest osteoporosis reports. Go figure!

As an added bonus, many people who quit the cow’s milk lose the bloat around their middles!

Nowadays there is a plethora of cow’s milk alternatives. For the sake of this segment I’m going to focus on three.

Soy milk~Almond milk~Hemp milk

bestmilk

Photo credits (almond milk): Fitnessista

*Go with unsweetened, unflavored for all milk alternatives

Good: Soy milk is a creamy delicious alternative and not too intimidating a leap from cow’s milk. I drank it for years before finding my new favorite (spoiler alert: it’s the one in the “Best” category)

Benefits of Soy Milk:

  • Lower in sugar than cow’s milk (7g vs 12g)
  • Contains good plant fats. Mostly unsaturated with zero cholesterol.  Soy milk has been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol and raise HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Good bit of protein and fiber (8g protein and 2 g fiber for a 1 cup serving)

Cons:

  • Controversial-some studies state that soy milk contributes to breast cancer and others say it prevents it
  • On the “Big-8” list of top 8 food allergies
  • 94% soy in USA is genetically modified. Look for a non-gmo label and organic to avoid this

Better: Almond milk has become very popular in recent years. I love almond milk for it’s nutritional profile and use it everywhere I would normally use milk except in my coffee. I find that almond milk alters the taste of coffee in a weird way. I mention it because that is my experience, but a lot of people don’t find that to be the case so its worth trying for yourself.

Benefits of Almond Milk:

  • Even less saturated fat than soy (none!)
  • Supplies 25% of your vitamin D and 20% of your calcium daily recommendations
  • Supplies 50% of your vitamin D and 100% of your B-12

Cons:

  • Also on the “Big-8” food allergen list under “Tree nuts”
  • Less protein and fiber than soy (1g each per 1 cup serving)
  • Tastes funny in coffee (personal experience ;b )

Best: Hemp Milk has my heart forever. Nuts are nutritional stars, but seeds are superstars and hemp seed is the Whitney Houston of the nut and seed category. It also tastes just as creamy and delicious as soy milk minus the controversy!

Benefits of Hemp milk:

  • Contains all 10 essential amino acids
  • 46% of RDA of calcium and 25% of RDA of vitamin D
  • 5 g of protein and 1 g of fiber per serving
  • Ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (3:1)
  • Contains vitamins A, E, B-12 and folic acid, and is rich in magnesium, potassium, iron and magnesium
  • Contains anti-inflammatory agents
  • Allergen free! no soy, dairy or tree-nuts
  • Tastes great in coffee! 😀

So there you have it. Any of these milks are great alternatives to cow’s milk, so pick one that intrigues you and try it out. My goal with this segment is to encourage small steps towards overall healthy habits and to make certain foods seem more approachable. Case in point: I’m an adventurous eater and I was afraid to try hemp milk! I only recently gave it a try and was surprised to find I absolutely love it! So start where you feel only slightly uncomfortable and go from there.

Have you tried any of these milk alternatives?

Which one would you be willing to try?

Is there a milk alternative that you think trumps hemp milk!?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

Happy Experimenting!

Sam

Good~Better~Best

Hey guys,

Oomph! I tried a new workout studio yesterday called BodyBurn and I am seriously feeling it today! This workout is no joke! All of the moves are done on a pilates reformer-type machine which has a stable platform, a moving platform and cables, so in all of the exercises you are either pushing or pulling while also trying to keep your balance. My favorite were the planks. We kept our feet on the moving platform and our hands on the stable one and we pulled our knees into our chest and twisted right to left. It was a killer! I’ll definitely be going back when my soreness to go away. Should take about a week 😉

My dad called me a few days ago to ask my opinion on what kind of sweetener he should buy at the grocery store. He often calls me for nutrition advice. So far I’ve gotten him and my mom to switch to organic cold cuts and eggs, almond milk instead of cow’s milk and almond butter instead of Skippy peanut butter. Any healthy swaps I can influence my parents to make I count as a win.

I’m a big fan of little swaps. They make a huge difference to your diet without making you give up your favorite foods and drinks. I also realized that all of the big upgrades I’ve made to my diet started with little swaps. I began experimenting with whole wheat flour in my baking. Back in the day, swapping half whole wheat flour for AP flour was a big deal, and now I’ve upgraded to oat flour, coconut flour and even protein powder in my baked goods.

Introducing new foods to your diet can sometimes seem daunting and everyone has to go at their own pace to make lasting changes which is why I thought I’d introduce a segment on the blog called Good~Better~Best.

PicMonkey Collage

Every week I’m going to focus on one food group and how each upgrade will improve your diet. It’s up to you and your comfort level where you want to start and how slowly or quickly you want to progress.

We all have strong beliefs about food (once upon a time I thought peanut butter would make me fat. Ha!) and sometimes it’s scary to try new things so I’m going to break things down and hopefully, get rid of some of the mystery surrounding certain healthy foods.

Here’s a preview of some of the foods I will cover:

  • Milk
  • Pasta
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Bars
  • Meat
  • Dressing

What do you guys think of this segment? Any food or drink I didn’t list that you would like me to cover? Let me know in the comments.

I apologize for this post being so short and sweet. My personal training test is in a few weeks so it’s crunch time and I’m hitting the books day and night. I might have a surprise for you all once I pass so stay tuned!

Have a great day!

 

If You Want Your Man to be More of a Man, Be More of a Woman

It seems like every woman these days considers herself a Type-A personality. We’re driven by this desire to seem superhuman and self-sufficient. It doesn’t help that our society celebrates a perfectionist, overachiever mentality. Though it is our fault that we feed into it like a Kardashian rerun marathon.

I’m completely guilty of running myself into the ground in an attempt to “do it all”. I remember when I turned 14 I was so excited to get my working papers. In high-school I stressed myself out so much over maintaining good grades, while keeping up with all of my extracurriculars and dance that I ended up in the hospital with a stomach ailment. I was out of school for a week and when I tried to go back too soon, just sitting in the classroom triggered my anxiety and I was back home before the end of 1st period.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from that little episode. In college I worked Friday afternoons to Sunday nights as a bartender and after school days I was a telemarketer for the school’s donation center. After graduating from college I worked four jobs. Four jobs! I had a color coded schedule with 30 minute increments so I knew where to be on what day at what time.

But this post isn’t about the problem with our success-driven production-valued society. It’s not even about being overworked. What I really want to talk about is what happens as a result of this hyperactive go-getter mentality. Specifically in regards to our romantic relationships, or lack there of.rp_SplitShire_IMG_1143-1024x682.jpg

I’m sure you are familiar with the terms masculine and feminine, but you may not be aware that these terms describe very real, specific energy and that there is an entire field of study on the effects of masculine and feminine energy.

To brief you on the subject, we all have masculine and feminine energy within us, no matter if you are a man or a woman. The masculine is action orientated. It’s the “do”, “go”, “produce” energy that fires you up. The feminine is creative, intuitive, and gentle energy that lends space to let things happen. It’s also restorative. By the way, we need both!

I know all about masculine energy. I ran on it all through my formative years. I had no idea about the feminine and if I did, I would never have believed how important it is. After all, the masculine gets shit done! What does the feminine do? It allows things to happen. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Turns out the feminine is just as important as the masculine. The feminine is creativity, renewal, compassion, connection. It balances the masculine and compliments it.

If you need a visual, imagine an all-male house party. Men acting stupid, crashing into each other, yelling, chugging beer, making a mess and farting. Ew! Now, think about what happens when you add a group of women into the mix. It’s a little cleaner. It smells a little better and it’s a little less aggressive up in there.

The imbalance arises when so many of us, especially women spend way too much time in a masculine state. We don’t know how to disconnect, we take work home with us and we even date with masculine energy. We pursue instead of letting ourselves be pursued. We plan the dates, we dominate the conversation. We want to show how strong and independent we are. But it’s a double-edged sword. By constantly demonstrating our strength and independence and proving we’ve got everything covered we leave the man wondering, “What can I contribute? She’s got this. She doesn’t need me.”

A mans deepest desire is two-fold: to feel needed and to make a woman happy. The greatest thing you can do for a man is ask for his help. Now, that in no way means you need to act helpless. This isn’t about dumbing yourself down and it isn’t about deceit.

Making a conscious decision to slip into your feminine energy around a man benefits you as much as him. When you are in your feminine energy, you provide an open and judgment-free environment where a man feels safe to express his feelings.

What woman has ever said, “I wish my man would stop sharing his feelings so much.”!?

Men want to be heroes. It’s in their nature. Men love a successful strong woman, but they also want to feel that a woman needs something from them.

In order for a man to be a hero though, someone has to let him be a hero. And if a woman keeps shooting down a man’s efforts, he is going to feel emasculated.

I pushed away plenty of men by making them feel not needed. My thinking was that my time was valuable and if they were really worth it, they would wait for me and not get in the way of my success. Only when I realized that my behavior was emasculating and I made space for a man, did a truly great one enter my life. He didn’t get in the way of my success. He supported me by providing a safe place for me to land. A man sees himself as a protector and a provider and a woman want’s to feel safe and secure. When a man and a woman are allowed to be in their true nature, both parties feel like their needs are being met.

If you didn’t figure it out already, the masculine and feminine have to do with testosterone and estrogen. A man produces about 16 times more testosterone than a woman which is why he can do “masculine” all day long and it doesn’t wear him out. When a woman does masculine all day long she becomes exhausted because it is not her natural state.

There’s a place and time for women to be masculine: at work, in positions of leadership, in a kickboxing class. The key is knowing when and how to switch it off.

55H                                                 Too much testosterone

Something I was made aware of recently that I find to be very cool is there is an enzyme located in the brain that converts testosterone to estrogen, and women can access it by simply making the conscious decision to slip into the feminine.

Luckily, it is very easy to do so and it often involves doing things that we women love to do anyway: Do something that feels indulgent. Paint your nails, watch TV with a cup of tea under a blanket, take your time applying your makeup before going out at night, savor a piece of chocolate. It’s even as simple as taking a few deep breathes before you walk in the door after a long day at work.SplitShire_9434

You may find that you’re not so exhausted anymore. You have more energy to do the things that matter to you. If you have a significant other, pay attention to how being in your feminine effects him. He may start acting a hero and even fix a few things around the house 😉

If you are dating, experiment with slipping into your feminine and see what kind of attention you get. I can bet you will find men to be more attentive, intrigued and generally in awe of you without being able to pinpoint why.

We live in a society where masculine energy is the standard if you want to be a successful, accomplished adult and that is perfectly fine. I’m not about to stop going after what I want and working hard to achieve my vision of success. We only run into trouble when we devalue and suppress the feminine. Until we recognize the importance of the feminine and the balance between the two energies, we will continue to run on fumes and wonder why we are so frustrated and tired.

After all, being a woman is exhausting enough let alone also trying to be a man.

 

Anyone else have trouble turning off their masculine energy at the end of the day?

What do you like to do to relax and treat yourself?

Do you notice you feel more feminine after doing those things?