Tag Archives: health

6 Lessons I’ve Learned in Healing My Gut

This article has been featured on Elephant Journal.

Heartburn, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and headaches. Looking back on it now, it’s hard for me to imagine that that’s what my life was like just 2 years ago. Having low energy and having trouble sleeping each night because either the heartburn or indigestion I was having was so uncomfortable.

While I don’t think we ever get to a point where we are completely “healed” in that we’re able to go back to the old lifestyle that we had before we started our healing journey, I have managed to reach a very stable place.

In order to reach this stable place in my gut health, I had a lot of different lessons to learn — and not only from health professionals that supported me in this journey but also in learning to tune in to my own body to recognize what it wants and needs.

Here are 6 lessons I’ve learned in my journey of healing my gut:

#1 – Cutting out dairy and gluten alone may not to do magic, but it’s still worth doing

When my gut problems first started getting unmanageable, I had several people in my life come chiming in with how they started cutting out gluten and dairy from their diets and they were able to get rid of their heartburn, stop having acne breakouts, started feeling more energized, and so on.

So I started cutting out gluten and dairy from my diet for a few weeks — and eventually even a few months — and I didn’t notice any results at the time. I found myself frustrated and as if all my efforts to cut out these foods was a waste of time.

I didn’t realize it then, but I know now that while cutting out dairy and gluten is beneficial, it may not be the only thing that our bodies need to heal. Maybe you’d also need to cut out sugar or soy and eat more vegetables and less meat. It varies a lot depending on the individual.

#2 – Gluten is in a lot of processed foods

In the first week or two that I started cutting out gluten, I remember telling a friend who had suggested I eliminate gluten from my diet, “I’ve been doing it for two weeks and I’ve noticed no changes!”

He sat there and looked at me with a straight face and asked, “Have you been eating soy sauce?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“Have you been eating salad dressings?”

“Yes.”

“What about sauces?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Then you haven’t been cutting out gluten.”

It took me some time to do the research online and read all the labels at the grocery store, but eventually I figured out what to look for on the labels and get a sense for what products are typically going to have gluten in it and which isn’t.

Fortunately for me, I’m not celiac so I don’t have to be extra cautious about contamination or anything like that. However, if you’re doing an elimination diet to see what foods work for you and which don’t, you have to know if you’re consuming bits of gluten or not.

#3 – Ditch the gluten-free products

In my experience of trial and error, I’ve realized that consuming gluten free products are just has bad as consuming gluttonous products. Why? Because they’re still processed.

When I started eating mostly whole, natural foods by buying most all my food from the perimeter of the grocery store, that’s when I started to really notice shifts in my gut and overall health.

#4 – We need to rotate our probiotics and enzymes

After about 9 months of working with my acupuncturist, I noticed my digestion was feeling a bit sluggish. When I informed my acupuncturist of this, she immediately asked me, “How long have you been using your current probiotic?”

“Probably 6 months” I said.

“You should probably change it” she responded.

Currently I rotate between three different brands of probiotics and rotate different kinds of enzymes. Sometimes our bodies get used to the same formula and all it needs is something different to give it a little boost.

#5 – We need to be open to changing our diets as needed

When I was first introduced to the paleo diet through my boyfriend and his sister, I first thought it was the magical life-changing diet that I had been looking for all along. Whenever I ate paleo I felt amazing, had more energy, and my gut was in the greatest shape ever.

So last spring I went on the paleo diet and I stuck with it all through the summer. Then, November hit and the paleo diet was no longer working for me. I felt tired, started having bouts of constipation and diarrhea again, and having occasional indigestion.

I experimented with different things in my diet for about a month or so and eventually I realized that my body wanted less meat, more veggies, and grains, like rice and quinoa, again. So through the winter months I stuck with a gluten-free “flexitarian” diet, where I only had meat once a week and it was exactly what my body needed.

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Click to Tweet: Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies. We need to be open and receptive to what our bodies are asking from us. via @jenilyn8705

Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies. So we need to be open and receptive to what our bodies are asking from us. Which leads me to what was, perhaps, my biggest lesson of all:

#6 – Our minds and emotions impact our gut health

The more we are stuck in our own heads, then the more our gut is likely going to suffer — and not merely due to neglect, but due to the fact that we are not tracking our own internal experience.

It’s important to be mindful and to check in with how we are feeling in our bodies throughout the day. Doing so helps us to get out of our “monkey mind”, as the Buddhists call it, and back into our present moment experience.

When I started really tuning into my body, I started to notice some interesting things. I noticed that whenever someone would cut me off while driving on the freeway, I would get a fluttery feeling in my stomach. I would notice what situations would raise my heart rate and which would cause neck tension.

By tuning into my body periodically throughout the day, I was then able to take care of myself in those moments. I then knew that I was holding my breath and that I needed to exhale. I knew that I needed to take a few conscious breaths to get re-balanced and centered.

In implementing a mindfulness practice, that’s when I learned the most valuable lesson of them all: How to care for myself.

What lessons has your body taught you?  Share it in the comments below!

5 Reasons Why You Need Boundaries in Your Relationships and Life

Have you been feeling drained, tired, stressed out, and exhausted?  Do you feel under appreciated, unseen, and unsupported?  If so, it may be that you need to learn how to set some boundaries in your life and relationships.

So why exactly do you need boundaries in your relationships and life?  Here are 5 reasons:

#1 – They give you a sense of self

When we don’t have boundaries in our lives it implies that we don’t have a solid sense of self.  We will tend to take on other people’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and values rather than to have our own.  This is commonly referred to as enmeshment.

When we are enmeshed with another person it means that there is no distinct boundary between you and another person.  There is very little sense as to where one person ends and the other begins.  One or both people will then have difficulty identifying their own unique individual experience and how it differs from the other person.

When this is present, it implies difficulty in differentiation from a parent in early childhood.  This doesn’t mean that it is “good” or “bad”, as it is quite common for most people to have experienced it at least somewhat in their development.

Being enmeshed can be very stressful, draining, and overwhelming.  Relationships can easily get “messy” and a person can feel like they have no control over themselves or anything in their lives.  As a result, a person’s natural tendency would then be to try to control other people, which is codependent.

Learning to recognize our own internal experience and then setting boundaries in a way that honors our internal experience, helps us solidify our sense of self with the external world.  It also helps create less stress and more balance in our relationships.

#2 – You are able to decide how you want to be treated by others

When we have boundaries we are able to effectively tell a bully that we will not tolerate their behavior.  We are able to leave a relationship that isn’t serving us in what we know is in our highest good.  When we have boundaries, we are able to enter into relationships that do support us in our own personal growth and healing.

#3 – You are able to make life decisions that serve and support you

When we have boundaries, we are able to say “no” to that job that is potentially wearing us out by working overtime for little pay.  We are able to say “yes” to taking new career path without getting locked into feelings of guilt or “what other people will think”. 

#4 – You are able to make choices that are better for your health and well-being

By having boundaries, we are also able to make better choices for our own health and well-being.  We are able to say “no” to smoking that cigarette or having a glass of wine and, instead, say “yes” to having some green juice and going to the gym.  We are more aware that we’re going to feel shitty after eating that brownie, so we’re able to turn away and eat something healthier.

#5 – You feel empowered

When set boundaries in our lives, we feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives.  We are able to live for ourselves, rather than through this desire to please other people.  We are able to be in relationships that are healthy, balanced, and equal.  And we have the ability to create a life for ourselves that we’ve always dreamed of.

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Click to Tweet: When set boundaries, we are able to feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How will learning to set boundaries in your life support you in creating a miraculous life for yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

5 Easy Morning Rituals That Will Reduce Stress and Overwhelm

In a world of 40-hour work weeks and traffic jams, mornings can be pretty hectic.  We may find ourselves rushing every morning to get to work or get kids to school.  We may even find ourselves doing our makeup in the car during rush hour because we’re just that rushed.

When we start our days with such a hectic and rushed routine, we’re making ourselves start our days stressed out and overwhelmed.  And, frankly, who really wants that?  So here are 5 easy morning rituals that will reduce stress and overwhelm:

#1 – Wake up at least 30-minutes earlier than you usually do

If you normally wake up about an hour before you need to be out the door, then maybe add on an extra half and hour.  If you normally wake up less than that, then you may want to try to add on more than a half hour.

Our weekdays can be pretty stressful as it is, so we certainly don’t want to make it more stressful for ourselves by rushing every single morning.  So try to give yourself some extra time in the morning so that you have more time to get ready and do more things for you and your own health and well-being.

And if you’re concerned about getting enough sleep, then be sure give yourself more time to at night to wind down and go to bed… it is possible!

#2 – Swap the coffee for a green smoothie

Many of us depend on coffee for our morning energy fix.  Though there can be a nice ritual around the process of brewing coffee, such as the smell of coffee beans or the flavor, coffee alone doesn’t give us the vitamins and minerals that our body really needs (and no, a morning bagel or donut doesn’t make it much better).  Eating leafy greens, fruits and veggies first thing in the morning is a much healthier option.

So grab your blender and make yourself a green smoothie.  If you’re in need of recipes, I’m currently obsessed with Kris Carr’s new book Crazy Sexy Juice for all my smoothie and juice recipes.  If you don’t want to get the book just yet, she also has a few recipes on her website.

#3 – Take a moment to really breathe some fresh air

There’s something magical about the crisp morning air that, once you stop and take a moment to appreciate it, can be extremely calming and grounding.  So before you rush out the door, take some time to open a window or step outside on to your porch and deck.  Take a few conscious breaths and allow yourself to take in and enjoy the beauty of the morning.

#4 – Write!

Our dream life is a world within us that we tend to neglect.  While we may remember a dream that was very charged for us for days later, most of the time we completely forget them.  This is unfortunate because our dreams are a bridge to our unconscious world.  When we take time to acknowledge our dreams, we allow ourselves to become more consciously aware of our thoughts, feelings and experiences that may have either repressed, forgotten about, or was never really aware of.

So upon waking, take a couple minutes to write down something that came up in your dreams.  It may be a lot of material or it may be only an image or two.  Even if you can’t write down anything about a dream, take a few minutes to free write about any thoughts that you have lingering in your mind upon waking.

Taking this time to write first thing in the morning, helps us to process our inner world.  By putting those thoughts, feelings and images out on to the paper we are making the internal experience less charged for ourselves.  Making this kind of activity a morning ritual, can be beneficial in reducing things like anxiety, depression, stress and so on in our waking lives over time.

#5 – Move your body

While those of us that are early-birds may morning jog to start our day, it doesn’t always work for everybody.  However, it is still highly beneficial to do some kind of movement first thing in the morning.

So take a few minutes to stretch and walk around.  If you’re a yogi, maybe you can do a few sun salutations.   If not, maybe you’d want to walk around your house or apartment before going to work.  Do whatever you feel called to do, but be sure to give yourself time move.

When it comes to your morning routine remember this: How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of our day.  So if we start our mornings stressed and rushed, then we’re likely going to be stressed the rest of the day.  Remember to slow down, take a few breaths, and do things for you so that you can feel happier and healthier.

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Click to Tweet: How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of our day. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Out of the rituals listed, which are you going to start doing for yourself this week?  Share it in the comments below!

3 Reasons Why Yoga Should Be a Part of Your Regular Self-Care Practice

Throughout my early 20s, I was practically a yoga-junkie. When I was going to school for my undergrad and I was working 36-38 hours a week, going to yoga class 3 times a week helped keep me sane and balanced. When I was student teaching, it was going to yoga that helped me not have too many emotional breakdowns.

When I wasn’t working, I went to yoga nearly every day – sometimes, admittedly, twice a day.

Despite being a yoga maniac for probably a good five years, my practice didn’t really sustain in the midst of my travels in East Asia. Just as I lost forgot much of my higher-level English vocabulary, I also lost my yoga-junkie self.

I’ve now just recently started really diving into my practice again. No “Oh maybe I’ll go once this week” kind of stuff, but like a really consistent practice to make it as part of my lifestyle again. After all, I’ve learned and gained quite a bit through yoga, so I think it deserves my attention again!

Now, as you may know, I’m not really one to give suggestions as if it’s a “one size fits all”. Realistically, we are all different. However, I do feel strongly inclined to say this one: Yoga is one of the best self-care practices you can do for yourself if you want to feel balanced in your mind, body, and spirit.

Of course, I don’t say this meaning that every teacher and every method will work for everyone, but rather that some type will. It can really transform your state of being and here’s why:

Yoga teaches you that you can always do more than what your mind thinks you can do.

That muscle will be complaining with that stretch and you’re mind will keep saying “No I can’t do it”, but then the magical thing happens: Somehow, you move farther.

This body-oriented lesson from yoga is a fantastic representation to for all the aspects in our life when we think we can’t go farther. Just when we think we can’t, we do. Yoga helps us to move forward with greater ease.

Yoga encourages you to release.

Let’s face it, we hold a lot of things in our body – mostly coming from toxins in our environment and old emotional baggage that we haven’t released. Though these types of things can certainly be released with regular exercise and movement, yoga is a bit unique because throughout the exercise you are focused completely on the breath and it involves a lot of stretching. This combination can really help us to really release what we need to and become realigned with our mind, body and spirit.

That all being said, in my experience, I have noticed (and I know this stems from the original yogis) that after yoga it is easier to meditate. The movement and motions help us to release all the extra “stuff” so we can know see things in a more peaceful light.

Stress relief.

Let’s face it, we are living in a society where most of us are in our minds going “go go go”. It’s hard for many of us to really sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment. Because yoga involves movement, it gives the mind something to get preoccupied about at first, but then once the end approaches it’s easier for the mind to just go “Thinking? Why think?”

Do you do yoga? What kind do you usually do? How do you think it helps you?

If you don’t do yoga, is there any reason why you haven’t? What kinds of mental blocks come up for you when you think about doing it?

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What Running Has Taught Me About Self-Care

 “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

This past week, I ran 7.5 miles. If you would’ve told me 6 months ago that I would be running over 7 miles a week I wouldn’t have believed you. I had tried this whole running thing many times before, but the truth is, I hardly made any real progress.

I haven’t ran a full mile straight in at least 3 years. And the last time I ran 2 or 3 miles straight was, well… never.

I’ve never considered myself a runner. I used to run in high school because that’s what I was told to do, though I never reached a point where I considered it to be fulfilling.

However, that has changed. Thanks a few apps I have been able to build up the endurance to not only run one mile, but over three.

The apps have taught me the benefits of approaching running with walk-run intervals. Even after completing my initial program set by the app, I have continued to run intervals a few times a week to help build speed. This is something that I had never done when running during middle school or high school. And, surprisingly, it worked 100 times better than the old method of simply just running and gradually adding on time.

One day I thought to myself, “So I became more efficient in my running by taking the time to both run and walk. Does this encourage efficiency in other areas of life as well?” For example, I thought that instead of trying to fit so many hours of productivity straight in hopes to be more efficient, what if I did some break intervals in my day to day life as well?”

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So I did – I stopped pushing myself to fit into such a strict schedule and started to listen to my feelings and what my body was telling me. If my body felt tired, I let myself sleep more. If I felt emotionally drained, I stayed in with a good book or watched a feel-good movie. If I randomly felt the need to go for a walk, I went for a walk. If I felt the need to push myself through the long stretch, then I pushed myself.

And you know what? Surprisingly, I have done more! And not only did I do more in terms of work, but my relationships improved because I focused more on my own feelings and self-care. I now feel so much happier and fulfilled overall.

The truth is, we are all out of balance. We are running around so much trying to be so productive and efficient that we’ve forgotten that rest and self-care is equally as important as action to experience true success and happiness. We’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves and to be our own best friend.

Find little ways to take care of yourself every day by dancing to your favorite song, going for a walk every morning, or curling up in the evening with a good book. Strive to be aware of your feelings. If you feel drained, then take a quick break. If you feel like going for a run, then go for a run.

And if your mind comes in and says something like “I don’t have any time to rest! I have to get all this done,” then remember that the breaks are equally as important to our success. Just like in running, by taking time to walk and not just run we actually become more efficient. We do better because we have given ourselves little breaks, but have also taken the time to sprint when we feel the need to.

Just as we need both lightness and darkness in each of our days, we also need action and rest. Allow yourself to have those breaks. Take care of yourself. Seek balance. You’ll go farther.

3 Ways to Reclaim Power Over Our Own Health

For years I was dealing with constant digestive issues and allergies. Regardless of diet or the healthcare practitioner I worked with, I found no relief. This past spring I was fortunate to cross paths with an RN who follows alternative medicine was was able to give me relief – and fast!

Even though her method has practically done miracles for me, for the last three weeks I felt like I mess. My allergies were coming back pretty badly, I had pain in my chest again, my acne was going crazy, and my energy was dwindling. To top all that off, I was stressed, frustrated, and angry over the fact that I even felt like this and I had absolutely NO way of contacting my RN for help.

In the midst of my frustration over this, I went to therapy. I didn’t want to go cause I felt terrible, but I figured maybe I can gain some relief. I vented my frustrations to my therapist and we decided to do a meditation where I basically scanned my body to feel where organs and things were calling for my attention. Luckily, by working with my RN, I was able to have a little bit of a “road map”, but its still difficult to really trust one’s intuition was the ROOT cause is, nonetheless.

Gradually, I felt the root cause was in one particular area and that by focusing on it and sending it some healing energy in the meditation it gave it at least some relief.

So I went home and took some supplements in accordance to that area. Needless to say, within a DAY the pain in my chest was gone. Without consulting ANY health “expert” the pain went away.

This week I had an appointment with my RN and I told her what I did. I told her about the pain I was in and the supplements I took. I felt hesitant and anticipated some lecture. Something along the lines of “You shouldn’t take anything without contacting me first” or “That isn’t what you needed. Now you just messed yourself up even more”. But she didn’t say that at all. In fact, she said something that surprised me, “Yes you were exactly right! You DO need more of that supplement”. She then proceeded to explain to me how each of the supplements I’m taking work so I can better make these types of decisions for myself without consulting her.

Wow, isn’t that empowering? For the first time ever, I had a healthcare practitioner say basically say, “You do know more about your body than me and here’s some guidance to help you retake full control over your own health”.

What an interesting yet slightly bizarre concept: In my head I was hardwired to believe that I can’t make accurate decisions about my own health. And, realistically, how many of us in this world have that SAME exact belief?

I mean, realistically, as recovering people pleasers and codependents it is only natural. If we have the tendency to focus so much on other people and their happiness, then we are also inclined to rely heavily on OTHER people to provide us with all the “answers” to our lives. We struggle to reclaim our own power fully and believe we are capable of knowing what we need.

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Here are three essential guidelines I’ve found are necessary to fully reclaiming our inner power:

Accept how you are feeling in your body right now.

The biggest mistake we make is that we reject what is happening. We feel bad and we react with “Agh I don’t want to feel like this”. Its like our ego turns it into this belief of “Maybe if I reject it and push was is away enough it will just go away”, but that never works. It only makes us frustrated, stressed, and ultimately feeling worse. If we accept what is we can then act out of love.

Be loving and patient with you and your body.

We’re not going to make perfect decisions 100%. We’re going to slip up and eat something we probably weren’t supposed to at some point or another. Our body is also going to act up once in a while even though we feel we have done everything right. Just be patient and loving. If you send healing energy of love to yourself each time you don’t feel so well instead of having thoughts of “I hate it that I feel this way” then we can heal much faster.

Trust the bodily sensations and ideas that come to you – even if it doesn’t quite make sense.

This can be difficult to do when you’re trying to overcome things like sugar, caffeine, or cravings of fatty things, but there’s never a bad time to start. If you suddenly get a craving for a healthy food like bananas, then get some bananas. Pay close attention to how you feel as you are eating. If you feel like something isn’t settling as “good” as it should then it’s OKAY to stop eating. Also, if you feel one particular part of your body is very extra “warm”, “tight” or “stuck” in some way then send it some extra healing love energy either by visualizing it as a color or putting it your hand over it and imagining the energy coming out through your hand.

 

Reclaim Power Over Your Health Today!

Are you finding yourself frustrated over your current health situation? What are you most struggling with? What do you think you most need to focus on in order to reclaim power over your health?

4 Ways to Stick With Your New Diet or Lifestyle Guilt-Free

So you’re feeling the need to make a new diet or lifestyle change. Maybe you’re wanting to trying this out

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yourself or maybe a doctor or nutritionist has recommended it for you. Or maybe you’re trying to cut down on your drinking. Either way, you know it’s something you want to do for your own health and well-being.

Easy, right? Well, not exactly because by making this new diet and lifestyle change you’re going to have to to change your social activities a bit. Maybe it’s no longer eating pizza with your roommates on Wednesday nights or having several drinks on Friday night until the clock strikes two. You feel torn because, well, you want to have a social life but you also want to feel good and healthy.

Well, the first thing I want you to know is: EVERYBODY who makes a new diet or lifestyle change experiences this at some point or another. If you go out to eat at the bar and grill there will always be somebody who asks you why you are the only person not having a beer.

Personally, I’ve struggled with this quite a bit. Currently, on a special diet where I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, and many other things. Based on my experience, here are the ways that have helped me to stick with my new diet and lifestyle guilt-free:

 

Know that you deserve to get what your desire for yourself.

Focus on what it is that you desire to get from this change. To reduce stomach problems? To have more energy? Whatever it is, consider what your goal is for doing this, add that in the blank, and then tell yourself out-loud: I deserve to have ________. You may want to try saying it as many times as you feel drawn to or play around with the wording as you go. Be sure you say it out loud because it can create a strong effect than simply saying it in our mind.

Tell everyone about your new diet or lifestyle.

This is what I know I really struggled with. I always felt like people were prying with all their questions whenever I simply decided not to eat the bread. “Why does this have to be such a big deal?” I used to think, and then I’d struggle to stick with my plan. What I eventually realized is that it was a sign from the universe to stand up and really tell people my goals. It was a matter of genuine self expression – of being both true to myself and other people. To stop trying to live a lie simply because I feared someone being critical and not accepting my own choices. And the funny part? I’ve actually been able to stick to my new diet and lifestyle change with greater ease because I now tell EVERYONE. Not only are we being completely honest with others and ourselves by saying it, but it also helps to solidify our goal so we are less likely to not follow it. Like, if I tell everyone at dinner that I’m gluten-free I’m much less likely to cheat with some bread and soy sauce because everybody knows about my new diet.

Take charge.

Though telling everyone makes a difference, it doesn’t always make it easier. The reality of the matter is that nobody is going to know what you need unless you tell them. For example, living a gluten-free lifestyle can be very challenging, especially, from my experience, that I’ve found many people do not know what gluten is and what it is in – both the people I have dinner with and the restaurants. I’ve learned that if I stand up and take charge of the situation then I’m less likely to struggle with it. This may be by choosing the restaurant to eat at, having the knowledge of what foods probably have gluten in it, possibly breaking away from the group and telling them I’ll meet up with them later, or perhaps even go home and do something else. Nobody else can know what you need at all times. You have to be willing to give that to yourself. If you take action to really be in charge of everything that happens to you in your own life, you’ll not only feel less guilty, but you’ll also feel more personally empowered.

If you mess up, forgive!

There are two ways that we need to remember to forgive when starting a new diet or lifestyle: 1. Knowing that it is okay to “let someone down” in order to take care of ourselves and 2. Knowing that it’s only natural to to have moments where we feel we are not doing good enough.  The big thing is to focus on being completely present in the moment. If you catch yourself focusing on a past situation with thoughts of “I should have done…” or focusing a lot on how fast your achieving results, let it go. If you focus on being present, then the next time the challenge comes up then you’ll be much more ready for it.

Take Action to Help You Start Your New Diet or Lifestyle TODAY!

What can you do today that will help you to stick with your new diet or lifestyle?  Is it telling everyone you know so you don’t set yourself up for social pressure?  Is it focusing on being easier on yourself?  Does it involve getting re-focused on what you want to achieve?  Does it involve really taking charge in your own life?