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Five Tips to Ease Into a Morning Routine

morning routine

Does the start of the school year drive you to drink? Since we’ve had the world’s longest Spring Break (seriously, that’s the last time my kids went to in-person school), the idea of starting school feels even more daunting than usual. As a coach who helps busy adults own their time and energy to achieve their goals, I’m quite fond of routines (you might even say I’m the queen of routines…haha). And – a morning routine will keep you from reaching for that morning Prosecco before you’ve finished your cup of coffee. Keep reading for my five favorite tips to ease into your morning routine.

1. Give yourself an adjustment week.

The whole idea behind easing into a morning routine vs. ripping off the band-aid on the first day of school is preventing Godzilla mom from making an appearance (and then feeling guilty about the way the morning went after it’s over). By giving yourself a week to adjust, everyone can get used to getting out of their pjs before noon. Even if you’re not leaving the house for in-person school, the morning still requires everyone to be ready to learn on-time.

The week before school officially starts, plan to integrate essential parts of your routine each day. For example, have your kids get up at a certain time (which requires going to bed earlier) each day the week before. You might even decide to incorporate just ONE part of the routine that you deem the hardest to conquer the week before (for me, that’s getting everyone up and dressed)!

2. Choose the path of least resistance.

If you haven’t been exercising, journaling, and preparing a five-course meal in the mornings before the start of the school year, the week they go back is not the time to start. Adding too much pressure to have the “perfect” morning routine only causes more overwhelm. Think about the basic tasks that have to be accomplished to get everyone ready on-time. Stick to those at first. You’ll have time to incorporate the other habits (if you so desire) at a later date. For now – make it as easy as you can on yourself!

3. Reverse engineer the process.

Something I’ve gotten used to doing from my healthcare project management days is reverse engineering my desired outcome. So, if I know my kids have to be ready to learn at 8:20, I work backwards to determine all the steps that need to occur for that to happen. I don’t make a schedule or anything (no offense to anyone who does), but I do make a mental note of milestones (project manager talk for reference points). Things like “we need to be in the car ready to pull out of the driveway by 8:05” or “the kids need to be brushing their teeth by 7:55” so I have a way to keep us on track. If that sounds a little type A for you, just completing the exercise of walking through the steps to get your final destination on time is so valuable!

4. Start the night before.

Complete as many parts of your morning routine the night before as you can! Packing lunches, setting out clothes, putting folders in book bags, and prepping some breakfast items are all things that can be done the night before. This makes the mornings run much more smoothly. Even with virtual school, my husband and I packed lunches for our kids the night before. This allowed us to actually sit down and eat OUR OWN lunch for a change. It made such a difference in our day! Involve your kids in the prep, too – it doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders!

5. Be prepared to make tweaks.

Some mornings are harder than others, so keep that in-mind. Try to keep that in perspective before making a change to your routine. However, if parts of the routine just don’t seem to be working day after day, make a tweak! I recommend making small tweaks to the process vs. overhauling the whole thing. Take a step back and look for what might be causing the routine to fall apart objectively. Try something different for that ONE part of the routine. And try the new tweak for awhile before changing again – it might take some time to catch on!

You’ve Got This

Successful morning routines are different from household to household! What works for your neighbor might not work for you. I’ve helped tons of adults engineer the right routine for them, and I’d be happy to be a sounding board for you, too. Reach out if you’d like to talk through your routine before it starts or if you want some help on the hot spots once it’s begun. I’d love to help! I hope these tips help you ease into your morning routine and your school year is a healthy one.

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Slow Down and Enjoy Life with Hygge

slow down and enjoy life with hygge

Do you ever wish you could slow down?  Enjoy the simple things in life more? I know I do.  I was just speaking with some other moms yesterday who feel they are always hurrying their kiddos (and themselves!) along.  Hearing this, I was reminded of a chat I had with a friend last year around the concept of hygge.  Since that conversation, I’ve learned to recognize hygge and make space for it in my life by slowing down and enjoying the moment more often.  So, I’m excited to share the highlights from our conversation and how you can slow down and enjoy life more with hygge.

When I wanted to learn more about hygge last year, I went straight to the source and spoke to a friend of mine who was born and raised in Denmark. Malte Pendergast-Fischer, in addition to being Danish, is the CEO and owner of the Green Ridge Group specializing in Human Resources, Business and Professional Coaching, and Business Expansion, amongst other things. He really helped me understand the concept of hygge.

Hygge just happens.

The first big ah-ha I experienced during our conversation came when I asked him to define hygge.  Malte explained that it is “something that naturally occurs by being together: finding opportunities to sit down, drink coffee or tea, and just chat.  Sitting on a couch, reading alongside each other. You don’t have to be in an intense conversation about life…it’s about gearing down. Hygge is finding motivation and opportunities to get together and be together.  You can hygge with yourself. It’s about slowing down and enjoying life.”

In the US, we are trained to seek and to achieve.  We want to see the bullet-points and guidelines for how to do something…then we set a goal around it and work hard to achieve it.  This work ethic helps us be successful at our goals, but there’s a downside to this. We miss some of life’s most amazing moments because we’re always looking to the next thing.

So, when I asked how to “practice hygge,” I realized it’s more about slowing down and making the time and space for hygge to happen naturally.  It’s not something to “seek” or to “achieve” at all. It happens if we allow it. However, this can be hard to do until you are better able to recognize when hygge is happening – and once you do – you’ll want to incorporate more and more of it.

Learn to recognize hygge.

With this said, here are some examples Malte shared so I could recognize when it’s happening:

  • Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the ultimate example of hygge.  Everybody slows down, gathers around a meal, and there is no pressure around presents.  It’s about being around family together. 
  • Inside during winter or rainy nights with a candle lit or a fire in fireplace.  (Malte also shared the Netflix fireplace feature with me…genius!)
  • Playing games, cards, or puzzles as a family.  There’s no real “end goal” or pressure… just chit-chatting about the day and enjoying each other’s company.
  • Turning off technology and reading alongside each other on the couch.
  • Taking a lunch break with work colleagues, leaving the office, and learning more about each other.
  • Having tea with neighbors or friends after a day at work.

Work to live.

Another important distinction we discussed that allows hygge to happen more regularly in Denmark is their point of reference for work.  There, they “work to live.”  In the US, we can be characterized as “living to work.”  In Denmark, you would never work longer just because your boss is still there.  There, you leave work by a certain time because you have things to do…yoga, being together, soccer, hygge.  

So, as we move into the busy season of the holidays and year-end deadlines, I encourage you to make time and space to slow down and enjoy life more…to hygge.  By learning to recognize it in my life over the past year, I’ve embraced a slower way of doing things but have enjoyed special moments with family and friends so much more.

Here’s a free resource for you.

If you are looking for some additional inspiration to slow down and enjoy the moment throughout the holidays, I invite you to take advantage of a free gift I’ve created to do just that.  It’s a Wholesome Holidays 2019 calendar that includes daily tips to choose joy and prevent stress all season long. Visit for your copy.

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What’s the Cost of Busy-ness

Busyness Does Not Equal Happiness

Busy-ness has become a badge of honor. Besides turning us into Godzilla mom (or dad or friend), there is a definite cost to all this busy-ness. Have you ever stopped to think of the consequences of being busy? I did some research on the subject, and I here’s what I learned. Busy-ness costs us…

1. Connection.

When you are stuck in the cycle of busy-ness, you:

  • have less time for family and friends.
  • experience a lack of presence (even when you do make time for others).
  • find yourself unable to enjoy the time because of too much to do
  • turn to social media for numbing and to escape the stress.

In fact, in a study conducted by Princeton University on seminary students found that 90% of those who felt extreme time-urgency and pressure to meet a deadline walked right past someone who was in desperate need of help. The take-away: busy-ness and stress rob us of connection and the very things that make our lives meaningful.

2. Money.

In the more literal sense of the word “cost,” there is a true financial cost to being busy, too. When you are busy, you are more likely to:

  • Miss payments, be charged late fees, forget to cancel extra subscriptions, and have limited time for bill review.
  • Eat out or purchase convenience foods which are 5x more expensive than eating meals at home or food you prepared yourself.
  • Let that gym membership go unused.

For example, have you signed up for that “special deal” on cable or internet that requires you call every 6 months to keep the payments at a manageable level? You can quickly spend an extra $50/month on your tv if you don’t have the time to do a bill review or call to update your subscription (that’s $300 every 6 months or $600 per year!).

Also, the subscriptions you put in place to outsource things or make your life easier also require attention and management. That Blue Apron membership or milk delivery is great…until you forget to cancel them and you’re on a two-week business trip.

3. Health.

When it comes to your health, busy-ness is certainly not in your favor. Busy-ness causes chronic stress and leads to:

  • Increased cortisol levels. Excess cortisol in the body has been linked to acne, abdominal fat and weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, and more.
  • Limited or no time for exercise, healthy eating, or self care.
  • Eating excess calories. You are more likely to eat out and reach for comfort foods when you are busy leading to up to 1,000 excess calories per week (that’s 10 lbs. of weight gain/year).

As a health & productivity coach, I’ve found that busy-ness and stress are the root (or underlying) cause of many health and lifestyle issues my clients are trying to improve. Once we tackle the busy-ness and stress, the ability to lose weight, exercise, be more present, prepare healthy meals, and just plain enjoy life becomes much easier. This was even the case for me!

4. Productivity.

Finally, busy-ness impedes our productivity. Here’s the irony: we are often staying busy because we associate it with being productive. This is not the case. Busy-ness causes:

  • An inability to focus on tasks. With so much swirling in your brain and no time for transition, you aren’t able to give the task-at-hand your full attention, limiting your creativity, problem-solving, and relationship skills.
  • You to be a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” By spreading yourself thin, you’re doing a lot of things with mediocrity instead of doing a few things exceptionally.
  • Rushing as well as being late to meetings and appointments. Talk about high cortisol levels!
  • Missed deadlines. You are more forgetful when you are busy and rushing, so deadlines fly out the window! Plus, the busiest people also tend to be the most over-committed people.

How Do You Stop the Cycle of Busy-ness?

The habit of being busy can be tricky to break, but certainly not impossible. It requires:

  • identification of your patterns and increased awareness on how you are spending your time and energy.
  • shifts to your mindset and habits towards doing less.
  • focusing on the vital few items that must be in place to feel present as well as to maximize your time and energy. 

I’ve seen this system work time and time again for my clients (and even in my own life), and now I can share it with you!

Do Less, Be More Coaching Program

My Do Less, Be More program is a 6-week group coaching program where I take you through my “busy-ness cleanse” so you can take back your time, energy, and joy.

The next round ofstarts October 23 and will be held on Wednesday’s through November 27. Space is limited, and I won’t be offering this discounted price again in the future. Don’t miss your chance to Do Less and Be More!

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Five Signs You’re In Need of Some Time-Away

This scene from Bad Moms is hilarious.  However, you’d be surprised how many moms I’ve talked to who actually agree with it!  Being mom is a full-time job – and one that comes with limited PTO.  Taking time away from family and kids is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself.

Here are five signs this could be the case for you.

1. You often hear yourself saying (outloud or to yourself) “I just need a break.” 

Girlfriend – Listen to what you are telling yourself.  If you think you need a break: you do!  Things don’t have to be at catastrophic levels to warrant a retreat or mom-cation. Even low amounts of stress on a regular basis can keep you from being your best. 

2. You’ve started to resent certain things (or people). 

Are there some days where you feel that if you have to answer one more question, respond to one more email, fix one more meal, or fold one more load of laundry you will absolutely lose it?  You’re not alone.  Adulting is hard work! Psychologists have proved that time outside of your normal routine to connect with other women helps wonders!

3. You’ve stopped doing things you love.  

Have you found yourself bowing out of chances to hang with friends?  Ditching the morning workout you normally can’t live without? Hitting the snooze button instead of getting up for your beloved morning “me time?”  When you’re in need of some time away, even the things you love doing can lose their luster.    

4. You have lost motivation for pursuing your goals.  

You were on-fire a few months ago: Reading self-improvement books.  Listening to podcasts.  Checking goals off left and right.  But now, you seem to have forgotten why you started them in the first place.  You can get your motivation back with some intentionally planned time away.

5. You just want some time away. 

Have you heard friends talk about time they’ve taken away and want this for yourself?  Are you craving the opportunity to take care of “just yourself and yourself alone?”  You deserve it!  You don’t need to have any other reasons to need time away other than wanting more for yourself.

Did you find yourself in any of the scenarios above?  If you’re a driven, dynamic, hard-working mom, chances are you’re up there somewhere.

That’s okay.  Many of us feel this way from time-to-time.  Regular time away from your regular routine to take care of yourself, relieve tension, and return home ready to take on the world again is so beneficial.  So, give yourself the permission to take some time away…and then schedule it!

And…Here’s What You Can Do About It!

I’ve decided to start offering retreats because I’ve heard loud and clear the need for busy moms to take time away.  A girls’ weekend of drinking wine, sleeping ’til 10, and laying by the pool for hours is great, but in order to come back home ready to take on the world, you need something more.

This is exactly the reason I’ve put together a weekend retreat to provide you with the time, space, tools, and inspiration to do less and be more in your everyday life.
With the backdrop of the beautiful town of Crested Butte and fresh mountain air along with peaceful, luxurious accommodations, I’ll lead you through an intentionally planned weekend where you will:

↠Hit the pause button on life’s demands and commitments with time carved out especially for you

↠Nourish your body with healthy food and learn tips for optimizing your nutrition even amidst the busiest of schedules

↠Feel invigorated through fitness adventures – hiking, stand-up paddle boarding (no experience required), yoga, and plenty of time outdoors

↠Connect with other women for laughter and support in making these new commitments to ourselves

↠Enjoy an opportunity to give back to others through a special art-inspired project 

Save $500…sign up by July 30!

This retreat is a girls’ weekend you don’t have to plan and doesn’t leave you needing a vacation from your vacation!  You’ll be able to reset and recharge to return home an even better version of yourself. Plus, you’ll have new tools, new friends, and new experiences to supercharge your ability to make your intentions come to life.

Valued at over $3,000 per person, you can join me for just $997 if you sign up by July 30 (the price increases to $1,499 on August 1).  Plus – then you’ll have your much-needed time away in the books!

Ready to sign up?  Contact me with any questions or go ahead and reserve your spot now!

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Three Quick Tips to Spring Clean Your Life!

With spring in the air, do you start spring cleaning projects? What if you did the same thing with your habits? Time to clean out that pantry and fridge to make room for clean eating! Dust off the old exercise equipment and bicycle to start getting after it! Here are three quick tips to help you spring clean your habits for a fresh start and healthier, happier months ahead.

1. Take an inventory.

It’s not uncommon for less desirable habits to creep in over the winter months. After all, we spend a lot of time inside, it’s cold, and there’s less daylight. This can lead to more sedentary time, more screen time, more comfort food, and more…wine! Become more aware of your habits for a few days and make a list of those routines you might like to kick to the curb.

When you’re done with your list, prioritize based on what’s most important to you. Then, set goals to tackle one at a time. You don’t have to do it all at once!

2. Save the wine for the weekend.

Ever since the holidays, I found myself enjoying a glass of wine every evening. When thinking of habits I wanted to “spring clean,” this one came up for me. For most of us, the one glass of wine turns to two…or more. And then we need some extra snacks to go with the wine. Then our sleep isn’t as good as it could be…and then we wake up feeling tired (and maybe even with a headache).

Now, imagine if you just have wine on the weekend, and you are able to stick with your healthy eating habits most evenings, can get a good night’s sleep, and therefore wake up refreshed and ready to start the day. Feels better, doesn’t it?

To make this one easier, try having some sparkling water or other beverage you enjoy on-hand when you would normally reach for the wine. You can even pour it into a wine glass to drink it!

3. Clean out your pantry and re-stock with healthy staples.

While you’re cleaning out your pantry as part of your spring cleaning schedule, make sure to re-stock it with healthy staples. If you have only desirable foods on-hand, it makes it much easier to make the healthy choice.

Here’s another tip: put the foods you want to eat more often in the front and at eye level. If you have snacks for your kiddos that tempt you, put those behind the other items or above eye level (this also prevents mini pantry raiders)!

Keep it simple.

If you’ve got other habits you’d like to spring clean, make sure to keep it simple. Starting new habits or breaking old ones can be hard work! Pick one thing to focus on at a time, and think about how you can set up your environment to support you (aka pantry re-stocking idea above). Enjoy the fresh start you are creating for yourself in time for the sunnier weather.

Want more info on spring cleaning your life? Join me for a free workshop on Sunday, April 28 from 9:45-10:45am at Athleta in the Park Meadows Mall. In addition to more tips, you’ll receive a discount to use on some new workout clothes in the store. Contact me to sign up!

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Find Comfort Outside of Your Comfort Zone with Self Care Rituals

Find Comfort Outside of Your Comfort Zone

I hear a lot from women that they want to get outside of their comfort zone.  In fact, research has shown that if you are completely comfortable you aren’t growing.  I love to witness this ambition and drive to make a difference and succeed.

But, here’s the thing: staying at this level of performance all of the time leads to stress, overwhelm, and burnout.  Certainly not the intended consequence.

The key is learning to find and create comfort outside of your comfort zone…to sustain your glow-getter status with self care rituals incorporated on a regular basis.  

Mindful Living

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Hudson of Mindful Haus, an online shop created with the intention to inspire others to live and give with more light and presence through artisan beauty, sacred self-care rituals and mindful living.  

Julie shared that, for her, a self care ritual can be taking even five minutes every day to honor yourself, slow down, and be a little bit more present.

Establish Your Own Self Care Rituals

Not sure how or where to start?  Here are six easy ideas to try in order to inspire comfort and help you find more joy even in the simplest of things:

1. Savor your morning coffee.  

Pick out a favorite mug. Smell the aroma as it brews and enjoy the sounds that mean the warm cup is almost ready.  Enjoy the flavor slowly and while setting your intention for the day ahead.

2. Treat yourself to fresh flowers.  

Select flowers that elicit a warm and pleasant feeling or that bring up a fond memory.  Place them in a handcrafted vase that suits your style in an area you’ll see often.

3. Light a candle.  

This can be a great addition to other self care rituals or can be one on its own.  Choose an artisan-crafted candle with a look, fragrance, and even crackle that makes you feel warm inside.

4. Take a warm bath with natural bath products.  

Read a book and enjoy a glass of wine or cup of hot tea.  Enjoy the warmth of the water, the fragrance of the products, and the taste of the drink.

5. Take a mindful walk without your phone.  

Establish a regular path that allows you to connect with the outdoors and causes you to leave your thoughts and worries alone for awhile.  Feel your feet hitting the ground, the sound of your breath, and even the beating of your heart in your chest.

6. Sit in stillness and reflection for five minute, do some deep breathing, or meditate.  

Taking even a few minutes to tune into your body’s cues and letting your mind relax does wonders for your soul.

Increase Your Awareness

Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “Am I showing up the way I want for myself? My family? My friends? My life?”  If you’re answer is no, consider investing some time and energy in establishing self care rituals.

I often say, the real secret to feeling energized and thriving is to find that space where your comfort zone and the discomfort of growth intersect…and then learning how to live there.  

Based on my own experience, self care rituals are essential to the “learning how to live there” part.

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5 Tips to Gain Less and Stress Less During the Holidays

stress less and gain less this holiday season

Did you know that 75% of all weight gained throughout the year is gained during the holidays (and the average amount gained is between 7-14 pounds)? 

And, ⅔ of people say they look forward to the holidays, but when asked once the season is over say they didn’t get to do the things they were looking forward to because they were stressed out over too many events, too many gifts to buy, and too many commitments. 

Sound familiar?

How would you like to finish the holiday season without having to squeeze into your pants after indulging in too much of grandma’s famous fruitcake (Does anyone really eat fruitcake)?

Or how about having the time and presence of mind to witness the joy of the season without running from place to place?

This year, you can actually enjoy the holidays and all they have to offer without feeling frazzled and needing to let out a notch on your belt!   

I’ve partnered with my good friend and Life Simplification Specialist Stephanie Sikora of Life Made Simple to keep you from overdoing it this season and finding more balance throughout the holidays.  

Top 5 Ways We “Overdo it” During the Holidays and Get Out of Balance

After some research and surveying friends as well as clients, we’ve determined there are five main ways that most people overdo it during the holidays.

  1. Overindulge
  2. Over-sedentary
  3. Over-schedule
  4. Overcommit
  5. Overspend

We’ve come up with some health and organizational tips to help you enjoy a more balanced season.

#1 – No need to overindulge!  You can enjoy holiday treats without feeling like an unsupervised kid in a candy store.

  • Health tip: Pause before you eat and ask yourself what it is you really want.  If onion dip is your favorite, plan to enjoy that at the holiday event.  Then, stop when you are satisfied.  More is not better in this situation.  Also, honor your hunger.  Starving yourself all day so you can splurge later just doesn’t work and leads to consuming more calories and fat.
  • Organizational tipTry to keep your kitchen clean and countertops clear.  Research on eating habits shows that those with clear kitchens participate in mindless eating less often than those with cluttered kitchens.  Take time each day to get rid of papers or other items that might be accumulating in your kitchen.  

#2 – Don’t become over-sedentary: keep your commitment to exercise! 

  • Health tip: Look ahead and plan even small amounts of time for activity.  It might not look the same that it normally does during the rest of the year.  That’s okay. The important thing is that you are making time to be active.  Not only does this allow you to eat treats without the guilt, but it burns off stress. For example, go for a walk at Aunt Millie’s…not only will you get exercise, you’ll get out of a house that smells like mothballs and is full of family talking about politics!
  • Organizational tip: Chaos around us, especially in our environment, triggers a stress response in our brain. This stress response shuts off the part of our brain that allows us to stay focused, optimistic, and disciplined.  Keeping things simple around us and having good systems can help you to keep things on track. Think about your environment – are things a little chaotic? If so, clean off a counter or better yet, have a system for keeping your counter clear. You will find that you stay focused on fitness even during the holidays.

#3 – Instead of over-scheduling, have time to truly enjoy what matters most.

  • Health tip: Talk to everyone in your immediate family to figure out which events or activities they enjoy most throughout the holiday. Set priorities based on these values.  Next, schedule time for other activities including down time, personal time, and family time. By having the most important things already scheduled, you can let go of the guilt from turning down other invitations.  
  • Organizational tip: Clutter can also occur in your calendar. This triggers stress!  Clear your cluttered calendar by setting some boundaries or a system to run your invites through.  Be okay with saying no or combine events if possible to help avoid clutter in your calendar.

#4 – No more overcommitting! Keep a handle on expectations of yourself and those around you.

  • Health tip: Be realistic about your commitments before you make them.  For example, when asked to make a pie for your kid’s classroom, ask yourself “Do I really have capacity for this?” or determine if there’s a different way to meet the need. Many times, we feel pressure to show up in a way that isn’t consistent with our values.  In this case, instead of making a pie, volunteer to lead a game of Simon Says during the holiday party.  This way, there is no prep involved, the kiddos aren’t all hopped-up on sugar, and you are getting to experience the activity along with them.
  • Organizational tip: Keeping things clear in your home and environment can help you to be more aware of what you are committing to and when things are too much.  And – don’t worry about what your organizational system looks like to others.  As long as it is working for you and makes your home feel clear and less chaotic, it doesn’t matter what others think.

stress less and gain less during the holidays

#5 – Resist the temptation to overspend and opt for more intentional spending.

  • Health tip: Focus on experiences over things.  Research shows that those who spend more often on experiences vs. things have less financial stress and worry.  They also enjoy the experiences more and for longer than material items.  Think of experiential gifts you’d like to give as well as receive to make it easy.  
  • Organizational tip: Do an inventory before you purchase.  Keep a simplistic mindset: you don’t have to go over the top just because it is the holidays!  Also, be aware of what you have already stashed away.  Create a good system to store gifts you buy during the year so you don’t duplicate efforts (and waste money).  Lastly, be okay with not buying a present if it’s not necessary.

Doing things differently can be tough!

We know how hard this season can be when it comes to sticking to a plan or doing things differently, so we want to offer support and accountability to have the balanced holiday you want.

This is not about doing more: it is about taking things off your plate or simplifying things to avoid overdoing it.  

I’m here to help!

I have created a FREE calendar with tips and inspiration for more joy and less stress this holiday season.  Coupled with weekly accountability emails and healthy recipes, I’m excited to offer this free support to help you enjoy wholesome holidays this year.

Click here to get the calendar delivered directly to your inbox!

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12 Pantry Staples for a Healthy (and Easy) Lunch

13 pantry staples for fast and easy lunches

As a mom, wife, entrepreneur, and human :), I totally understand how busy mid-day can be.  On the days my kiddos are home, it’s easy to find myself eating leftover chicken nuggets and fruit snacks for lunch.  On the days I’m working, it’s not uncommon to still be sitting at the computer at 1:30 having missed my lunch completely.  What does this usually equate to later in the day? Godzilla mom.  No bueno.

Breakfast often gets the most attention as being an important meal of the day, and that’s still true.  But I think lunch is overlooked!  As busy moms (and humans in-general), it’s important to eat a healthy meal mid-day.  What you eat for lunch and the time you eat it can dictate your hunger, food choices, and mood for the remainder of the day.  I’ve found there are a handful of pantry staples to have on-hand so I’m not resorting to leftover kid food at 1:30 on a regular basis.  And, now you can make sure to have these on-hand, too!

1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of fiber (keep you fuller longer), as well as vitamins, minerals, and the antioxidant beta-carotene.  Plus, they have a long shelf-life, so if you buy three or four of them and don’t eat them right away, they won’t go bad.  Also – they require very little prep in order to eat.  When I’m going to work at an office, I pop one into my purse.  When it’s time to eat lunch, I wash the outside and pop it into the microwave (I use the potato setting).  Voila!  I’ve got the base to my lunch in just a few minutes!

2.  Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt has become quite popular over the past decade.  It’s similar to regular yogurt except that it’s filtered so that it has a higher protein content (and it’s thicker).  In addition to being a good source of protein, it contains healthy probiotic bacteria to aid in your gut health.  I prefer to eat full-fat dairy products, so I purchase regular Greek yogurt (full fat products are less processed and have less added ingredients).  However, I’ve found that the lowfat and nonfat varieties still taste good.  I like to put a serving of greek yogurt on top of my sweet potato, or I will add some sundried tomatoes to a small bowl of it with mixed greens on the side.

3. Sundried tomatoes

For some reason, I feel like the addition of sundried tomatoes makes a dish fancy (Fancy Nancy would approve).  But did you know they also contain protein?  A 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes has 4 grams of protein.  Not to mention the fiber, antioxidants, and yummy taste.  They are easy to keep on-hand, and I throw some in a salad, mix it with canned chicken on a sandwich, or eat them in Greek yogurt (as mentioned above).  Give yourself a little something fancy by stocking up on them!

4.  Canned chicken breast

The quality of canned chicken breast has really improved!  It used to be rather disgusting and crazy salty, but now it’s pretty easy to find a good quality product.  I like to stock up on canned chicken breast at Costco – it’s cheaper that way, and they usually have a lower sodium, organic product available. I used to even store cans of chicken in my cube when I worked at the office full-time.  If you are in a pinch, you can literally open the can of chicken breast, drain lightly, and eat directly out of the can (don’t judge, I’ve done this).  But, if you’re not starving, it’s a great addition to a salad or can be mixed with other ingredients to make a salad of it’s own.  Three of my favorite things to add to it are dijon mustard, avocado, and sundried tomatoes.

5. Dijon mustard

When you are trying to eat healthy, it’s important to make sure you find ingredients that add flavor.  This is what Dijon mustard does for me.  It’s got a little bit of sodium, but it’s low in calories and is super tasty (another Fancy Nancy approved ingredient).  It can be used in a more traditional way – spread on a sandwich – or used as a base for homemade salad dressing.  I love mixing mine with canned chicken or even tuna in a pouch!

6.  Avocado

Need I say more?  🙂  Avocados are known for their healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which are good for the heart and circulatory system.  Including healthy fat in your diet is also important for brain health and keeping you fuller longer between meals.  Avocados are nutrient-dense, so eating even a small amount of them packs a big punch.  I love to mash them up with canned chicken and sundried tomatoes or with tuna from a pouch and dijon mustard.  They are also super yummy spread on whole grain crackers or on top of a salad.  So many different ways to use them!

13 pantry staples for healthy and easy lunches

7. Lemon

Lemon is really on the list because it helps keep your avocado from turning brown and also from breaking down in the fridge.  I like to make sure I keep some on-hand anytime I’m buying avocado (which is always).  Squeezing a little bit into your tuna and avocado or chicken and avocado can help keep it fresh until lunchtime.  Another tip: if you run out of salad dressing, lemon can be added to a small amount of vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil.

8. Tuna-in-a-pouch

I like tuna-in-a-pouch better than canned tuna because it’s more convenient.  While it’s important to watch your consumption of tuna due to mercury, eating one-to-two servings per week has been shown to still be healthy.  Tuna is high in protein and contains healthy omega fatty acids as well as other important minerals.  I have been known to keep a tuna pouch in my purse (right next to some gum…fish breath, yuck!) for a quick protein boost.  As mentioned above, I like to mash mine together with avocado and dijon mustard, but it’s also yummy on top of a salad or on some crackers.

9. Salad greens

Pre-washed salad greens make it so easy to have a salad!  Including more greens in your diet can improve your mood, ensure enough fiber, and keep you fuller longer.  Plus, having a salad for lunch tends to prevent that mid-afternoon slump.  Even if you work full-time in an office, you can bring salad greens to work with you and keep them in the fridge for easy access.  I like arugula when it’s available because it has a nice peppery flavor, but any mixed salad greens will do.  You can use them with canned chicken or tuna in a pouch, sundried tomatoes, and avocado.

10. Salad dressing

I sometimes joke that I eat salad for the dressing.  I know I’m not alone.  Here’s the thing: eating a full-fat salad dressing helps you absorb the nutrients in your salad.  Really.  Plus, just like with my full-fat Greek yogurt, there tend to be less added (unnatural) ingredients in full-fat salad dressing.  Just watch your portion (it can be helpful to measure it out until you have a good idea of how much to use).  Make sure you have one you like on-hand as it increases the likelihood that you’ll follow-through with making and eating your salad.

breaking the false nutrition cycle

11. Whole-grain crackers

Something about a good, crunchy cracker seems to be so satisfying!  Including whole grains in your diet is important because they contain B vitamins and many minerals, plus they have fiber.  My family is gluten free due to my daughter’s celiac disease, so I opt for non-wheat crackers.  I look for ones with the least amount of ingredients (less processed) and with whole grains.  I love “Mary’s Gone Crackers,” and have found them in bulk at Costco.  I eat my whole-grain crackers along with a salad, use them as my spoon in the can of chicken, or eat them with some deli meat and avocado.

12. Deli meat

Last but not least, I like to have deli meat from the deli counter on-hand.  I choose deli meat from the deli counter because it is less processed than the pre-packaged stuff.  It also tends to be lower in sodium and doesn’t get slimy in the package.  I buy whatever Boar’s Head deli meat is on sale each week as a way to mix it up, and I choose the low sodium option whenever I have the chance.  Not only do I eat the deli meat, but it has become a quick lunch for my kiddos on many occasions, too (they love it rolled around a cheese-stick).  You can easily put deli meat on your salad, roll up some greek yogurt in the middle (caution: this can be messy), or eat on the side with your sweet potato and greek yogurt for added protein.

Six Healthy Lunches You Can Make and Eat Quickly (even when you’re super busy)

There you have it!  The 12 pantry staples I keep on-hand for healthy (and easy) lunches!

Want some of my favorite lunch recipes to go with them?  You’re in luck!  Click here to get Six Healthy Lunches You Can Make and Eat Quickly (even when you’re super busy) delivered straight to your inbox.

With some pantry staples and easy recipes, you’re sure to fend off the Godzilla mom hangries for sure!


*Disclaimer: I am not a registered Dietitian, and I am not qualified to diagnose or treat food-based illnesses or conditions.  If you have concerns about specific foods and any health conditions (including pregnancy), please work with a Registered Dietitian to determine the best solution for you.

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How Kelly Got Unstuck…Her Confidence…and a 20% Raise

how kelly got unstuck

Kelly first came to me as a consulting client.  She was so overwhelmed and knew something had to give.  She thought that hiring a consultant to take some of the extra work off her plate would take the pressure off and allow her to perform like she used to. And it helped a little, but as we continued to work together, it became clear that what Kelly really wanted was help to get unstuck.

She felt overloaded with the amount of work she had to get done every day.  She loved her team and the idea of her job, but what it had become was unsustainable.  Kelly felt like a failure for feeling like she needed to ask for help.  And she didn’t believe that things would really change if she did.  Plus – she wasn’t sure where to start.  It all seemed impossible.  Kelly was tired of feeling helpless to change her situation and figured the only way to improve things was to look for a new job.  But, that had challenges of its own.  So, she continued to struggle through things and hope that something would happen to make things different.

What It Means to Be Stuck

What Kelly was experiencing happens to a lot of us and causes us to get stuck in the first place.  We start to experience the discomfort that comes from a change in our lives or our routines or even a mindset shift.  In Kelly’s case, it was an increase in demands of her job and the size of her team without a change in compensation or even input into how things were done.  When trying to talk to others about her challenges, she was only able to talk about what was going wrong and how she felt.  Her ability to come up with a path forward was clouded by her fear of being a failure or letting others down.

How Coaching Helped

I approached Kelly with the idea of giving coaching a try to help her get unstuck and see new possibilities.  Like many others, she wasn’t sure how coaching worked or how a health coach would help her job situation change.  But – she felt like it was worth a try.  I started with Kelly as I do with my other clients – establishing a vision for the ideal situation.  She resisted at first because it seemed worthless to envision something that seemed impossible.  However, she was able to bring herself to do it.

Just gaining clarity around what she really wanted – to keep her current job but with credit and compensation for her increase in responsibilities as well as better work/life balance – brought a sigh of relief.

Our next steps together included mapping out the top priorities for attaining this vision and action-oriented goals she could accomplish in order to move closer to it.  This part of the process helped her see how much control she actually had over the outcome and made her feel less helpless in her current situation.  And – by setting deadlines for the goals – she was being held accountable to completing them but also knew there was a timeframe to re-evaluate the situation if the outcome wasn’t what she hoped.

Confidence As An Unexpected Outcome

It took several months, but eventually Kelly devised a new way to tell her story to a leader who would listen.  And, then things started to change for her.  It’s possible that Kelly could have done this on her own over time.  But like many of my clients, she felt that having a coach listen and help her see things from a different and sometimes more objective perspective expedited the process.  It also helped her increase her confidence to a higher level than it was before.

Kelly was also able to use her new skills to tackle some additional areas where she felt stuck.  With her confidence at a new level, she decided she would start exercising more.  She also started a new meditation practice.  It turned out that getting unstuck in one area opened up the opportunity to more easily change in other areas.

You Can Get Unstuck, Too

Where would you like to get unstuck in your current life?  Is it your job like Kelly?  Or maybe it’s losing weight.  Or finding more balance. Whatever the reason, I’d love to help you get started.

It’s never too early or too late to begin working on the best version of yourself.  Your dreams can be achieved…let’s get started!

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5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals: Tips to Organize Your Ambition From A Project Manager Turned Health Coach

5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Learn how to meditate.  Volunteer more at my kids’ school.  Join the chamber for more networking.  Plan a monthly lunch date with my husband.  Achieve my goals of training for a half marathon and eating less fast food.  Drink less coffee (and maybe wine, too). Listen to a daily self-improvement podcast.  Create a new family budget to allow for more vacations. Plan and book family vacations.  Learn how to make zucchini noodles. Get a promotion at work. Start my own business…

Sound familiar?  If you’re like many successful women, you are not lacking when it comes to ambition.  You have goals and aspirations. Your track record shows that you are able to accomplish what put your mind to.  Yet, you continue to struggle to find time for those “nice-to-have” goals. Things that would contribute to your health and wellbeing.  Things that you’ve always wanted to try…but never seem to have the time or energy to bring to fruition.

5 Steps To Achieve Your Goals

Plan for Success

When an organization wants to ensure success for an important initiative, leaders generally assign a project manager (or several if it’s big enough).  Why? Project managers are skilled at breaking down initiatives into measurable tasks; tracking dependencies, risks, and issues; keeping the team accountable to success; and influencing members of the organization when they are holding things up.  You can use these same concepts to ensure success for your own important initiatives.

5 Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Five Steps to Organize Your Ambition

As a project manager for over ten years, I find these same skills to be quite handy when working as a health coach. I’m excited to help you achieve your goals in five simple steps:

  1. Write all of your goals and ambitions down.

    Put everything you aspire to do on this list.  This is more or less a brain-dump. It’s an opportunity to get everything down on paper.  TIP: Some of my clients have preferred to do this exercise on a computer in an excel spreadsheet so they can organize it more easily later.

  2. Create categories.  

    Next, take a high-level look at the list.  First, notice any similarities.  Are there some items that can be grouped together into a category?  For example, if you have “learn to meditate,” “take a regular yoga class,” “journal daily,” and “listen to a daily self-improvement podcast on your list,” you could list each of these items under one header such as “Personal Self Care.”  Try to create three to five broad categories so that each task has a larger category it belongs to. Write the category name, then list each of the items that belong to the category under the header. TIP: Most frequently used categories include self care, work/career/purpose, family/spouse/romance, finances/money, health, self improvement, fun/recreation, and physical environment (i.e. home).

  3. Consider dependencies.

     Once you’ve finished your categories, it’s time to consider dependencies.  These are items that depend upon one another in order to be completed. For example, if you have “eat less pre-packaged and fast food” as well as “learn to make zucchini noodles” on your list, you might feel that eating less pre-packaged and fast food is dependent upon you learning new cooking techniques…such as making zucchini noodles.  Consider any dependencies for the items on your list and write them down in a column to the right of the corresponding item.  TIP: Common dependencies include time, money, skills, and personal permission (giving yourself the permission to make this a priority).

  4. Assign support to complete the tasks.

     Now that you’ve considered your dependencies, it’s important to think of a strategy to manage them.  This might be a person reminding you of your commitment, finances to get started, or learning new skills.  Create a new column labeled “support” to the right of each item, and fill in the strategy or support for managing the dependencies. TIP: Outsourcing or delegating can be a helpful support mechanism.  For example, to make more time for tasks, the support you need might be someone to clean your house periodically or a personal chef to help you make healthier meals while you are still learning.

  5. Determine a timeline.  

    Now it’s time to add your final column: timeline.  The most important thing here is not to pick too many items to complete at one time…or you’ll be right back where you started.  When I work with clients, we pick two to three overarching goals per three month period. In this instance, you would pick two to three of your larger categories to work on for the next three months.  Then, determine which of the smaller tasks in each category you’ll complete in order.  Assign a date to have each item completed. When you are doing this, you might notice that some of your items need to be broken down into smaller tasks to make them manageable. TIP: This step can be really helpful in calming your overwhelm.  If you’d like to learn more about how designating a timeline can reduce stress, check out my blog on “creating a when to do list.”

Support is Key

Now that you’ve organized your ambition into a manageable plan and set a timeline to complete your goals, make sure to share them with someone.  Telling someone about your plans will make you more likely to complete them. 

Want more tips on achieving your goals? 

Join my Facebook group for women where I share free tips to be healthy, feel happy, and live well.  Plus – you’ll have the support of others who are striving to do the same!