5 steps to feeling happier

I’ve been absent for a while from this blog.  I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection and trying to figure out what I want to accomplish this year.  Even though its October, and it may seem like the year is ENDING, I feel like it’s just starting.  It’s probably because I have two kids in school and I think of the year as September to June.  :)  Really, our “year” can start whenever we want, so mine is starting NOW.

One thing that I think most moms would admit to is that life is full of ups and downs.  Whether we admit THIS little tidbit or not, its true for most of us:  we get  A LOT of our own self worth out of our kids.  If your kid is a brainiac or a rock star in sports, you’re set, right?  Life is pretty easy and you feel pretty good about yourself!

But, what if your kid has “issues”? (this could be clinical or non clinical)  Life is a lot more complicated, logistically and emotionally.  It’s easy to get down on ourselves, because, well, we DO get our self worth in part from our kids, and when they struggle we feel less worthy and inadequate.

So, just to clarify right now, this post is not about kids, its about us.  It’s about

  • living in each moment (because we mom’s tend to let our minds move ahead in time, trying to plan out our, and our kids’ futures),
  • being happy
  • feeling worthy of life’s abundance
  • being healthy
  • lifting the burden of the world off our shoulders.

Do you struggle with feeling happy and worthy?  do you look at other people an think, “why does life seems so easy for them?”  I do.  That’s my confession, and I’m coming clean with it.  I struggle with feeling worthy of G-d’s blessings and I have been playing the victim card pretty much my whole life.  It’s because of ADHD that I didn’t complete grad school.  It’s because of my demanding family (or better excuse, because I want to be a good mom) that my business isn’t as successful as it should be.  I don’t want to bother people to follow up with them…

After reading some really good books this summer (The Power Of Now, by Ekhart Tolle and You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, and Get Off The Bench by Justin Harrison), I am calling myself out. No more victim bullshit!

AND, I am challenging you to call yourself out!!!  Here’s how:

4 steps to feeling happier

  1. Call yourself out of your own bull shit.  Acknowledge G-d’s intention for your life and that G-d wants you to be happy. Do you really think that we are put here to be miserable?  One thing that both books discuss (and you can learn all the scienc-y in and outs of it in another book called Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton–so this isn’t just new age mumbo jumbo) is that what we BELIEVE actually is manifested in our reality.  This is a whole OTHER blog post, so I won’t get too serious about it here.  Just take the leap and accept that the garbage you tell yourself is the garbage that manifests in reality.  Hence, the importance of being HAPPY!
  2. Live in THIS moment.  Let go of the BS that happened in the past.  And, none of us can predict the future, so WHY DO WE CONSTANTLY TRY????   This is me to a T!!!  I am always playing back things that happened–what could/should I have done differently?  Analyzing my every move, and of yesterdayhistorycourse, badgering myself about it.  Living in this PRECIOUS moment is freeing–is a gift!!!  It’s why my dog is always happy–he has no baggage and he doesn’t worry about the future.  He trusts me.  Trust in this moment.  It takes some practice, I’m not going to lie, and I certainly don’t have it mastered!!!  But, I do call myself out now when I find myself worrying about the future.  This is how I do it:  when I start worrying about the future (i.e. what’s gonna happen with my kids, my business, etc), I remind myself that G-d is way smarter than I am so I’m going to trust Him and the Universe to bless me with abundant goodness.  When we worry about bad things, that in of itself actually brings it into our lives!!!  SO STOP WORRYING and HAVE FAITH.   Living in the past is even more tricky to identify.  For me, the past is what prevents me from doing things–playing the victim card.  I’ve just started noticing this in my everyday tasks, whether I do something or not, what my reaction to things is, etc.  Right, you’re like, yeah, easy for you to say!  Ok, so I’m going to tell you how to do this. see #3
  3. Keep a gratitude journal every day.  literally write down one or two things that happened that day that you are grateful for–be specific and say why you are grateful.  I like to do this before bed, so I can reflect on my day and pick out the good nuggets.  This technique has been clinically proven (and you can read all about it in Shawn Achor’s book “The Happiness Advantage) to increase happiness and good things happening.
  4. Spend more time in nature. Nature is amazing.  It is healing and we are a part of it.  There are so many things about being in nature that are nourishing to our body and spirit–sunlight, fresh air, peace.  I’ve been very blessed to be able to do this a lot recently.  This is the time I work on my presence and blessings.  In nature, even in your own back yard, everything is in abundance.  Leaves, blades of grass (or in our case, weeds!), bugs, even dirt.  All teaming with life, giving us life with their oxygen and beauty.  When I contemplate the abundance of the natural world, it reminds that, hey! I live in this world too!!!  When I look too closely at something, like looking at one single plant, we are only littlepicofnaturefocused on that small bit.  But when I look up, and see the bigger picture, I see there is A LOT more going on. picofnature And when I look beyond even that, I see how truly abundant and amazing the view is (even in the limited scope of this view).  From the moss on the tree, to the water (and what is in the water–fish, insects, microorganisms, algae), to the teaming number of leaves in my view (and the incredible process of photosynthesis, making oxygen for us to breathe, and the process of the leaves turning beautiful colors. bigpicofnatureThere is abundance in the universe and it is amazing.  Why do we feel unworthy of this obvious overflow??  Declare and accept your part of it.  Don’t overthink it.  Just declare and accept.  Louise Hay has great affirmations for this.
  5. Shield your precious spirit from reality!  Ha ha, now you think I have really gone overboard!  But, I think you know what I mean.  We live in a society that instills fear into everything we do: that we don’t have enough, that we are not happy enough or perfect enough (just watch some HGTV or Food Network), that we should be afraid of getting sick, and if we are too healthy, then well, you’re going to get sick soon.  At the same time we are bombarded with news and all the crap the media feeds us, and the advertising of toxic products.  No wonder we struggle with feeling happy!!!  So, I say, turn it off!!!!  Stop giving  people you don’t even know power over your precious spirit.  As all the authors I mentioned above say, when we focus on negative, we get more negative.  Even Facebook can be negative (depends on your friends-LOL).

So here is my ultimate wish and challenge:  What if we all changed our thinking?  What if we ALL did these 5 things every day– stop the victim mentality, be present, keep a gratitude journal, spent more time in nature, and turned off the TV/phone/news?  We would be happier, and possibly spread it to the next person.  And studies show that this affects our reality.  So the world will change and be happier.  See where this is going?

Let’s turn everything we ever thought about our lives on its head. Let;s  clean out the cobwebs and the crystal ball.  Let’s trust the universe and breathe in and out, and let life present itself to us.

If you think I’ve completely lost it, or I’m on to something, please let me know!!  leave a message and share with me.


Why I’m a Fitbit hater

I have a more than a couple of clients that are fitbit junkies, and even as someone whose passion is to motivate people to be healthy and move, this annoys me.
Fitbits and the like are extremely helpful in motivating people to get off their duff, to get the regular movement we need every day. Even I get motivated by that! What fitness-minded gal DOESN’T want bragging rights for 10 or 20,000 steps a day, right?

Here’s where I’m a hater: when clients tell me that they don’t come to their workout because they don’t get in as many steps during a strength workout as when they walk or jog around the block.

So, I’m setting the record straight. Here is the truth behind the controversy of strength vs. steps:
Study after study after study shows that, although there is value in cardiovascular exercise, strength training is better for your muscles, your brain, and weight management. So why, please tell me WHY would you waste an hour walking (not even walking in nature–I can totally see the value in that), instead of strength training for 30-45 minutes?

funk–are you stuck in it?

I’ve been working with a lot of people lately who are in a funk.  A mood funk, a body funk, or just worried about kids, money, their job, etc.  I’m in that lot, too.  When we fall into funkiness (I don’t know what else to call it, that word is so perfect), it can feel like we have fallen into a hole, or driven into a cul du sac.  We know how we got in, but we struggle to figure out how to get out.  Usually, some kind of vice like food, alcohol,  or TV placates us in our place of funk.

I use HGTV and chocolate covered almonds.  I love fantasizing about new ways to decorate my home to avoid thinking about all my worries.  And almonds are good for you, right??

What is your vice?

  • a glass of wine at night?
  • excessive running?
  • ice cream?
  • ???

The problem with vices and with cul du sacs:  even though it feels kind of comfy there (we know the scenery, maybe even the neighbors are nice, and the food is so damn good!), we are just spinning our wheels–we aren’t moving forward on the “grand highway of life.”  (I just made that up but it sounds so auspicious, doesn’t it?).

Let’s face it.  We ALL want to move FORWARD!  We don’t want to keep going around in circles looking for solutions to

  • our body image and health issues
  • our financial issues
  • our personal relationship issues

But, when we stay in this  “cul du sac” fantasy-dream state, going around and around, that is EXACTLY what we are doing.  We are, like my dog, chasing our tails.

I see it all the time.  People come to me thinking that I have some magic pill, some secret that will make them skinny in 6 months.  But they don’t want to do the hard work.

I’m not talking about the hard workouts.  I’m talking about changing.  THAT is the real work.


  • thinking habits
  • ideas about food and exercise
  • shopping and cooking habits
  • habits of abusing themselves with their thoughts

There’s a lot of information out there, so most people think they have the answers when it comes to losing weight or being healthy.

And, the truth is…

It’s not that complicated.  But, what IS complicated is filtering all the chatter inside your mind and out in the world.  The rationalization to eat or not to eat, to work out or not.  The negative thoughts inside your head, and maybe even what your spouse says out loud.  The chatter about “all the other times” when you did something only to fail.

THIS is what keeps us in the cul du sac in our minds and bodies.

My friend Christy and I have written a wonderful program that will show you the way out and onto the open road, where you can move FORWARD.  And we are offering it, with tons of support, next week in our Inner Beauty Challenge.  Click here to find out more.  Be a part of this first class and you will receive as an extra bonus:

  • $25 off!  BAM!
  • a free lemon essential oil mailed to you
  • my e-book on how to burn fat

You will also have an opportunity to earn $20 back when you fill our our survey at the end of the challenge.

Are you really ready to get out of your funk?  Life is too short to stay there.  Let’s explore the possibilities together!

I know I can’t wait!!!  Elyse

Guilt-free, fat burning delicious dessert, anyone?

Guilt-free, fat burning delicious dessert, anyone?

THIS is yet another guilt-free “cheesecake” recipe. It seems like its all the rage with bloggers lately, so I am jumping on the bandwagon. I love these recipes!  They are low glycemic, delicious, decadent, and guilt free.  Hello…what more could you want from life??  I, however, want to change it up and have my own version. I made an orange and blueberry cheesecake for Passover (check out the post here), and I have made similar chocolate ganache tarts, but I’m if I serve blueberries again my husband might get tired of my  raw, vegan antics, and sometimes all chocolate is just too rich (wow, did I just say that??).

Another thing that I love about these recipes is this:  many people who want to lose weight and/or eat healthier think they have to give up good food and tasty treats.  NOT SO!  This delectable dessert is a perfect fat loss, burn-those-hips-down-to-size example of how healthy can be delicious and guilt free. The coconut oil, coconut cream,  and cashews are all extremely nutritious.  They are good sources of healthy fats and protein, which help the body to burn fat.  I use real maple syrup for these  recipes, which is lower glycemic than other sweeteners.  The dates–have you ever opened a date?  They have tons of fiber!  But, you’d never know you’re eating something healthy with this delight.  When you eat foods balanced with healthy fats and proteins your body secretes less insulin, and this creates a little magic in the body.  Glucagon, the fat-burning hormone is released and BAM!  This is why people can eat all day and not get fat.  Its a fine line, though.  If there is too much insulin (because there’s too much sugar/carbs in the bloodstream at once), then glucagon can’t come out to make energy.    This is one of the secrets to fat loss that people forget, which causes massive frustration, which ultimately results in giving up, feeling like a failure again, and demoralization (all the usual things that go along with diets on the back end).  These types of dishes show that you can have your cake and eat it too!

This week I’m going to experiment, so stay tuned for pictures! I’m going to take the basic raw, vegan, gluten free cheesecake deliciousness (trust me, it is GOOD), and use strawberries and raw cacao nibs. Who DOESN’T like strawberries and chocolate!  My hubby is not a fan of strawberries, so to make everyone happy, I’m going to alternate blackberries and strawberries.  This is sounding better and better by the minute!

Its my daughter’s birthday, too. Strawberries (or any berries) and chocolate is such a great combo for a special occasion.

So, go over to Savanna’s blog and check out the recipe and then stay tuned for my version with strawberries and raw cacao nibs!

Wish me luck in the kitchen!  :)  Elyse

Holiday dessert that will impress

A couple of weeks ago, we had our occasional vegan gourmet club I lovingly call Veggie Fest.  You should try this.  Gourmet clubs have a reputation for being food orgies that usually involve a lot of decadent, unusual food with a theme, alcohol, and indigestion, so a VEGAN gourmet club might seem like an oxymoron.

Its actually one of the most fabulous and looked-forward-to event events at my house.  My HUSBAND even asks, “when’s the next veggiefest??” with anticipation!

None of us are actually vegan.  It all started when I flirted with veganism, or what I like to refer to as plant-based eating, after watching a few too many food documentaries.  I decided to try it for  as long as I could.  I made it 6 months.  Not too shabby.

We always impress ourselves about how good we have gotten at finding amazingly delicious recipes that use only plants, and we joke and laugh about how the first few dinners caused some “intestinal discomfort.”  Despite that, we hung in there and now share great recipes that we mostly get from other awesome vegan bloggers.

This past dinner I made a delicious Raw Orange and Blueberry Cheesecake (yes, vegan), from OneGreenPlanet .  YUM!  It’s not only impressive looking, but it really is delicious.  AND, you can make it for Passover or Easter (or for a summer birthday cake, or a baby shower, etc).  I made a few modifications, but otherwise I used the recipe on the OneGreenPlanet.

For the crust, I used 2 cups of hazelnuts and 1 heaping tbsp of raw cacao powder, about 10 dates and a pinch of salt.  This was combined in a  food processor until very fine and sticky.  I put it in a lined (with plastic wrap) springform pan.

For the main “cheesecake” layer, I followed the recipe here and added 5 drops of doTerra Wild Orange essential oil to give it a little more orange flavor (it needed it even with using the juice of 3 oranges and their zest). Only use doTerra brand.  Other brands are not edible.  Wild Orange also has awesome antioxidant properties (double bonus!). If you would like to order a bottle, just contact me.  (read  about essential oils here).

There were a lot of OOOH’s and AAAH’s.  The nutella-like crust was an amazing little extra.  There was none left over.  And all the ingredients are kosher for passover! YAY for healthy delicious Passover treats!!

Please let me know how YOURS turns out and if you made any modifications by leaving a comment below!  Happy Spring Holidays!!  Elyse



5 tips for swimmer wannabes–30 minutes to letting go of your fears

Fear.  Its probably the most powerful emotion we feel.  It can stop us cold, or it can push us to go far beyond we ever imagined.  And, its the number one thing that holds people back from doing any kind of sport involving swimming.  Understandably so, because drowning is a real danger for anyone at any age.  As a triathlon coach and an adult swimming coach I can understand why people would be reluctant to get in the water with 50 to 100 other people all flailing and vying to get to the first buoy and beyond without being kicked or swum over (or drowning).  It is intimidating, and even after 10+ years of triathlons I’ve still been overcome with panic attacks at the beginning, cramps in the middle, and exhaustion at the end of a long swim leg.

If you train right, have an ounce of courage, and follow these steps, I know you can do it AND you will probably come to maybe even LIKE swimming.  That was me about 12 years ago.

I didn’t know how to do a flip turn.  I got out of breath after 1 lap.  I thought 1 lap was from one end of the pool to the other.  I didn’t understand all the meter jargon.  When I read articles about swimming and looked for workouts it was like it was in some other language–a number equation that somehow I was supposed to learn in an algebra class.    I didn’t understand how people could like this!  It seemed so hard and exhausting!  I never thought I’d be able to swim 750 meters (about 15 laps) in a pool let alone in a lake with other people around, no lines, cloudy water.  None of that really matters now, 12+ years later.  I have had more personal revelations  in the water during a race than any other time in my life.

If you are willing to overcome some basic fears, you can learn to swim with ease.  Its not like its gonna happen overnight, but it will happen and its a lot easier than you think.

1.  Overcome your fear of being in a bathing suit.  Get a one-piece sport suit.  Because they fit tighter, you might actually look better than you think you would.  Even if you are horrified at the thought of getting in a bathing suit, remember that no one else really cares what you look like.  You are your own worst enemy on this front and overcoming this fear can make a real, positive difference in your perspective of yourself.  Its totally worth it.

2.  Fear of totally drowning.  Everyone has a fear of drowning.  Breathing air is kind of important to our survival, so going under water where we can’t breathe is unnerving, especially during exercise where you breathe even more.  Once you learn the secret to nor feeling like you will drown, you will have overcome one of the most basic fears of mankind and can accomplish pretty much anything.  This fear is so powerful–its grip on us is strong and innate, but breaking free from it is one of the most uplifting, gratifying things you’ll ever do.

3.  Fear of failing or looking weak (or like you have no freaking business being in the pool).  This is the second most-common fear, next to drowning.  The fear of not being able to swim an entire length of a pool, feeling ashamed that you’re so out of breath, or that you can’t swim without hanging on to the side after each lap, or flapping around the water looking ridiculous.  The truth is that we ALL start here.  The other truth is once you get down the 5 basics I share with you below, you’ll feel confident and like you could swim forever.

Sport and life is 99% attitude, and as you can see these first three criteria are all about getting in your head.  Actually getting in a bathing suit and walking on the deck of your gym’s pool is a huge accomplishment.  It takes guts, especially your first time.

So, assuming you got that far, and you are sitting on the deck of the pool, dipping your toes in to see if its warm, now you are probably wondering–what the hell do I do now??? Here it is.  I’m gonna lay this out for you in 5 steps:

1.  Do this:  Swim one length of the pool–from one end to the other–and see how you feel.  Are you out of breath? did you hold your breath when under water?  This is the most common thing people do.  After all, isn’t that what our swim teachers said when we were little?  “Hold your breath under water” for fear that we would breathe in or wouldn’t instinctually know what to do.

Almost every adult and kid I have ever met who struggles with swimming do not breathe OUT when their face is in the water, or they keep their face out of the water and crane their neck so much it hurts and have to hold their breath.

2.  Do this:  stand in the water, bend over the surface of the water.  breathe in.   Put your face in the water and push that water out through your nose and mouth.  Simply put, make lots of bubbles (that’s what we tell kids).  turn your head to the side and breathe in again.  turn your face back to the water and breathe out completely.

This is a little secret of physics that helped me to really understand this and have faith in my lungs and my body’s ability to do this:  when you breathe out completely–pushing all the air in your lungs–you create a negative pressure in your body so air forcefully enters your body when you open your mouth.  So, when you push all the air out of your body underwater, you automatically breathe when you open your mouth as you turn your head and your mouth comes out of the water.

NOTE:  You are probably saying: what if I get water in my mouth??? just spit it out on the exhale into the water.

   3.  Now, do this:  swim half the pool preferably with a freestyle stroke (or a breast stroke), focusing solely on breathing out when you’re face is in the water, and breathing in when your face comes out of the water.  Consciously force the air out of your body when your face is in the water.  This will create that negative pressure so when you turn your head to breathe in, the air will automatically fill your lungs.  After you do this for half the length, swim from one end to the other.  Its okay if you forget or poop out.  Simply focus on getting your breathing pattern down.  You can even say to yourself in your mind, breathe in, breathe out, etc.  It might sound stupid but its very effective (and its not stupid).

The next most important thing when doing any stroke is pretending the water is your pillow when your face is out of the water.  when you sleep (hopefully) you don’t crane your neck to look at the ceiling all night as you lie on your stomach.  You are either face down into your pillow, or your ear is on the pillow and your face is looking to the wall.  this is how you swim too.  When we lift our heads too far out of the water, our lower half falls and then we are just dragging half our body through the water.  But, when the water’s edge hits the crown of your head (kind of like where your sunglasses would be if they are propped on your head), the bottom half evens out.

4.  Do this: lay in the water face down, and look straight down at the bottom of the pool, like you are looking for a lost earring or diamond (I call this “looking for diamonds”–you never know what you’ll find at the bottom of a pool!).  When you go to breathe in, simply turn your head to the side and look at the wall of the pool (like where the numbers are in the tile).  Do one length of the pool breathing out and looking for diamonds at the bottom of the pool, and breathing in, turning to the side to look at the tile.

Once you have gotten your breathing and head position down, a lot of your form falls into place and you don’t feel like your flailing.  You might even feel like you’re gliding a little.  No matter what, the head position and the breathing are key, so keep practicing that.  Of course, to feel like we are actually accomplishing something, its nice to be able to swim longer than one length.

Inevitably there will be a time where you feel like you can’t catch your breath or you’re in the deep end and you get a cramp.  Having a safety stroke to fall back on is key to overcoming your fear of drowning.  Mine is the side stroke.  My criteria for a safety stroke is: it has to be easy for you, your mouth is easily out of the water, and its somewhat relaxing.  Side stroke is great, because your head and neck are relaxed (vs. breast stroke), you can see where you are going (vs. backstroke), and you can still keep moving in a more relaxed state.

5.  Do this:  swim 2 laps of freestyle as you learned above, with breathing and head position.  Then switch to your safety stroke.  Having this in your “back pocket” will give you so much confidence.  You will enter the water knowing that you will not drown.  It might take you longer to finish than you’d like, but over time you can work on that.  Having a safety stroke you know that now matter what, your biggest fear won’t happen.

Try this, share it, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!!! I want to hear how it felt to overcome your fears.  I know others will read it and be inspired.  Please share your accomplishments!!

Happy Swimming…Elyse

cholesterol not the cause for high cholesterol–stop taking statins

I was researching high cholesterol today, not because its “Heart Health Month” but because one of my family members (who shall remain nameless–and no, its not me) has high cholesterol.  I was surprised that their doctor said they should go on a low cholesterol diet, because anyone in the health community with half a brain should know that dietary cholesterol does not cause high cholesterol.

Back when I was an undergrad, I worked in a lab where we studied cholesterol and atherosclerosis, so I know a thing or two about this.  Back then, in the 80s (yes, 30 some-odd years ago) we knew that the primary cause of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is inflammation of the arterial wall.  Despite that finding, the pharmaceutical industry created statins to control endogenous cholesterol (cholesterol made by our own bodies in the liver).

Because I’m not a doctor a lot of people don’t take me very seriously when I tell them this, and how to fix it.  So,  when I came across this great article by a heart surgeon I wanted to share it right away.   Dr. Lundell does an amazing job summing up why taking statins isn’t really helping “cure” heart disease, how a major component of our American diet is killing us, and clears up major myths about the #1 killer of women in the U.S.

Click here to read the article 

Please read the article, pass along to your loved ones, share on Facebook and share a comment with ME below.

Here’s to our amazing, healthy, miraculous bodies!  Elyse