The Power of Breath

Breathing is an involuntary, autonomic bodily function. The diaphragm lowers and the lungs expand, drawing air in. The diaphragm raises and the lungs return to their starting position, expelling old air.

Although breath is automatic, it can be consciously manipulated to create astounding effects. Some people, like singers, athletes and wind instrumentalists, may already be aware that they can control the breath to achieve their desired effect – be it a longer sustained note, a gorgeous coloratura passage or the final follow through on a weighted back squat. Others use their breath to change not just the physical, but the psychological, and that is what we are going to get into today.

Let’s first talk about BAD breathing habits. As stress and tension creep into our bodies, we can develop breathing habits that aren’t the most conducive to our sustained well being. Do you recognize any of these?

  • Holding your breath – common sign of stress, tension, or anxiety.
  • “Breathing” by raising and lowering the shoulders, not expanding through the midsection – a learned habit that doesn’t actually make breathing any easier or more effective.
  • Slouching/hunching over a workspace – this can take away from the full expansion of the breath.

These are all learned habits that we develop as adults. If you or someone you know has an infant or baby, watch the baby breathe for a while. You’ll notice a full, belly-breath (no shoulder tension whatsoever) and no slouching. The goal is to get back to that quality of breath.

Secondly, let’s talk about the restorative power of breath. This is the conscious manipulation part. According to this study out of the University of New Mexico, conscious deep breathing has been known to reduce stress, stabilize blood pressure and heart beat, and improve immune function. Deep breathing can also ground you, making you feel more present and in the moment. Eliminating distracting thoughts and negative feelings can help you be more productive throughout your entire day.

If you are still unsure about the power of deep breathing, try it! Take 5 minutes for yourself each morning to simply sit and breathe. Be sure to consciously fill your lungs, expand through the belly and back, and to slowly expel the air (and along with it, negative thoughts and feelings). As an alternative, you can take a yoga class that focuses on Pranayama Breath, and/or ujjayi pranayama (which you’ll find typically in a vinyasa class).

What are you waiting for? Start creating your #sustainablehealth today, with the power of your own breath!

Once you’ve started your practice of deep breathing, incorporate strong breath work into your daily workout. Don’t workout daily because you’re pressed for time? Try our 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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Discipline vs Being Too Hard On Yourself: Where to Draw the Line

From an early age, we’re taught that discipline is a worthwhile skill. Those who are more disciplined study harder, perform better on tests, advance further in sports, music and all extracurriculars, strive for higher education, get better jobs, and the list goes on and on. Discipline is healthy. It inspires practice, analysis, self awareness and self respect.

However, it becomes easy, especially as an adult, to blur the line between discipline and obsession. As we grow more aware of ourselves, we grow more aware of the people and the world around us. Self awareness turns into comparison. Practice turns into obsession, and burning out. Self respect turns into being too hard on ourselves. Ultimately, when you’re too hard on yourself, it can lead to low self esteem and even long term psychological effects.

This is not to say you should abandon your sense of discipline entirely. Your discipline is what got you to where you are in the first place. But when it comes to crafting your ideal nutrition, fitness routine and lifestyle, you need balance in order to sustain things long term. Too much or too little discipline can tip the scales in an unhealthy way. There is no need to beat yourself up if you weren’t able to get a workout in today – simply plan for it and ensure you make time for it tomorrow. On the other hand, shrugging off your workout plan and diving into those cookies your coworker brought into the office isn’t a great plan, either.

Try thinking of it this way – how would you treat a friend? If a friend had a serious goal, how would you advise them? When would you tell them to ease up on themselves, or to start treating their goal more seriously?

We are often much harder on ourselves then we are on our friends. If we spoke to our friends the way we do to ourselves (“You look horrible today.” “None of your clothes fit you well right now.” “You’re eating terribly.” “What is wrong with you?”), we would run out of friends quickly! Treat yourself with the same compassion with which  you would treat a friend. You’ll find that you still strive to reach your goals, but don’t sweat it as much when you slip or hit a stumbling block.

Discipline is admirable when combined with balance and realistic expectations. It’s often hard to fit in a “real” workout with 30+ cardio, stretching, and strength conditioning, on top of all of your daily commitments. Sneak in the workout you can with our  7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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Finding An Accountabili-Buddy

It can be easier to achieve your nutrition and fitness goals when you have an external resource to hold you accountable. When going at it alone, it can be tempting to put off that morning run, or take a pit stop at a fast food place because you’re SO hungry and after all, it’s only one meal…

Enter: The Accountabili-Buddy. An Accountabili-Buddy is a person who will check in with you and make sure you are still on track with your goals and tasks. It’s not one-sided; when you get an accountabili-buddy, you become one as well. Being someone else’s buddy will also help you stay on track – it might inspire you to reach for that apple after dinner, instead of a glass of wine, or give you ideas about what you need to do if you’re feeling stuck.

Here’s what we suggest – set a weekly phone call with your Accountabili-Buddy. Limit that call to 30 minutes, so you won’t be tempted to chat or stray off topic. Use those 30 minutes to celebrate your accomplishments from the previous week, as well as work through your setbacks. Your Accountabili-buddy will do the same thing, and you will both create a list of new tasks and goals for the upcoming week.

It’s ideal to have an Accountabili-Buddy who is also pursuing nutrition and fitness goals, but they do not need to be the same as yours! Remember, it’s important to focus on your whole health. Your Accountabili-buddy’s goals may be to eat more healthfully, but they may also be to take more personal time to decompress, to make sure he or she is getting enough sleep, etc. You can both encourage and support each other to pursue your own individual paths!

Just one request: Please make sure you aren’t coaching each other on health, nutrition, or fitness goals. Please consult a professional for that type of guidance so that you don’t end up backtracking!

Ultimately, it can never be a bad thing to have someone else’s support. So what are you waiting for? Go find your Accountabili-Buddy!!

If incorporating more fitness into your life is one of your goals, you can start small and still make a big difference!  Check out these 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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Crockpot: The timesaving assistant you never knew you needed

If you’re like me, the last thing you want after a full day of work is to stand for another 30 – 60 minutes preparing and cooking dinner. Despite having “slow” in the title, Slow cookers, or crockpots can be the meal timesaver you never knew you needed. Whether you’re a newbie to the cooker, or you just haven’t gotten into using one yet; read on dear friends, because I’m going to save you some time! (FYI Crock-Pots are a type of slow cooker, but in general, the terms are interchangeable.)

Imagine coming home to a house that smells DELICIOUS.

Imagine coming home to a fully cooked meal… that you didn’t have to hire anyone to make.

Imagine having portions big enough for your entire family or for you to disperse into multiple meals with virtually no extra effort.

Imagine no more. This is the reality of the crockpot. A crockpot has the power to “slow cook” a meal over the course of anywhere from 2 – 8 hours (some have settings that can let you set a timer, set the temperature, and more). You can assemble a meal in the morning before you leave for work and come home to dinner, ready to eat. Or, before you go to bed, throw in some ingredients for overnight oatmeal and wake up to a hot breakfast!

Now, what you could do with the extra time you won’t be cooking? What else could you accomplish in your day?

Now that you have extra minutes in your day, check out these 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!). Change your life by managing your time and taking care of your body with the help of Fusion Wellness!

We love food and we want to know what you made! What awesome recipe did you make in your slow cooker this week? Let us know know on social media with #crockpotmagic and we’ll retweet and repost our favorites!

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Fatigue Fixes for Your 5 Worst Energy-Zapping Habits

We’ve all been there – the alarm goes off, and you wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed the night before! Or perhaps it’s 3:00 pm and you’re in the office feeling completely exhausted.

You may have habits that you didn’t even know were making you tired! See if you have any of the 5 habits below, and learn our Fatigue Fighting suggestions that will reenergize you!

1. Bad Habit: Not drinking enough water! Dehydration can lead to fatigue and that foggy feeling that keeps you from feeling present and engaged during your day. It can be so easy to grab a cup of coffee on your way out the door, grab another coffee at lunch, and at 3:00 pm you still haven’t had a single drop of water to drink.

  • Fatigue Fighter: Try this for a week: drink half your weight in ounces of water. It sounds challenging, but after a week you will feel a huge difference!

2. Bad Habit: Technology! Is your cell phone the last thing you see before you go to bed at night, and the first thing you see when you wake up? Bad news: the bright light from your cell phone (or tv or any device) tricks your brain into believing that it’s still daytime, and prevents it from releasing melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone). As a result, your brain has a much more difficult time preparing for sleep, which means you either get less sleep than you need, or your sleep might be less restful.

  • Fatigue Fighter: No technology 60 minutes before you go to bed. Read a book. Listen to music. Take a bath. Cuddle with a loved one. But put that cell phone away and give your brain a full 60 minutes with no bright light to keep it awake. If you must check your email or messages, utilize the Night Mode setting on your phone to cancel out the blue light that is keeping your brain wired. All iPhones with the most recent iOS update have this option, and many Android phones do as well. If your phone does not have this mode, you can download the application flux (Hint- you can also download flux to your computer!)

3. Bad Habit: Office snacks! Sure, that handful of sugary candy you grab when you visit your co worker’s office may boost your energy in the short term, but inevitably after the boost comes the sugar crash! Sugar can be habit forming, so you might be tempted to go back and visit your co worker… and grab another handful… and another handful of that sugary treat. 

  • Fatigue Fighter: Bring some snacks from home that can boost your energy naturally without giving you that crash. At Fusion Wellness, we love almonds, a hard boiled egg, an apple, or some raw, crunchy vegetables with hummus!

4. Bad Habit: Sitting still for too long in front of a computer. When the deadlines are tight and there never seem to be enough hours in the day, it can be so easy to let a full work day pass you by without leaving your desk. But sitting, especially with poor posture (being hunched over a desk is pretty common), can lead to low energy levels. 

  • Fatigue Fighter: You must move, every hour, on the hour! Maybe you stand up and walk a full loop around your office, or do 10 quick push-ups. Maybe you take 3 minutes to stand up and stretch. You’ll be amazed at how much energy some light movement can give you.

5. Bad Habit: Cramming in all of your sleep during the weekend. Your body craves stability, and functions better with a more consistent bed time/wake up time. Lack of sleep affects everything from motor functions, to comprehension, to your cravings. 

  • Fatigue Fighter: Try and go to sleep within the same 30 minute window each night, and try to set a consistent alarm time. Yes, this may mean waking up earlier on weekends, but you’ll feel much better overall, and you’ll see your energy levels become much more stabilized!

Now that you have more energy, it’s time to put it to use! Did you know that you can get fit in under 10 minutes a day? Seriously! Take a moment to learn about our 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

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Go and be well! Which habits did you notice? Let us know if any of our #fatiguefigher
suggestions helped you feel more energetic this week! Use the hashtag #fatiguefighter, and tag us and we’ll retweet and repost our favorites!

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Morning Habits: Set Yourself Up For Success!

Having an effective morning routine can be a strong way to set up the rest of your day for success. You don’t even have to be a “morning person” to try some of these tips!

  1. Harvard biologist Christoph Randler conducted a study that revealed early risers are more proactive; they more readily anticipate problems, and minimize them efficiently – leading to greater success. You don’t have to get up before the sun to find success, but try waking up 30 – 60 minutes earlier that you currently do. With this newfound, more proactive time in your day you can: plan your optimal week, do one of our quick workout hacks (without a gym), make yourself healthy breakfast, or healthy lunch for later in the day! Remember to also go to bed earlier as well; take a bit of that not-as-productive evening time so that you’re not losing sleep.
  2. Visualization/Meditation: Do you have a list of a million things to do in the morning and sometimes wonder how you’re going to get through the day? Take 10 minutes to visualize what you want from your day, and envision yourself accomplishing it. This will help you prioritize what is most important, and will empower you to stay focused on reaching those goals first. Meditation is another tool that you can use to help ground yourself in the present moment. After meditating, you may walk away feeling more energized, centered, driven, or with a sharper perspective.
  3. Check something off your to-do list right away! Is there a small project you keep putting off? Do you keep meaning to go through that stack of mail?  Do it, first thing in the morning! By ticking something off, you’ll give yourself a sense of accomplishment that can motivate you and encourage productivity throughout your day.
  4. Get moving! You don’t have to be a morning workout person to get some blood flowing: stretch lightly, take the dog on a walk, or do some jumping jacks as you’re waiting for your coffee to brew!
  5. Do something you LOVE! Play your favorite songs as you make breakfast; find a podcast that brings you joy that you can listen to on your way to work; text a friend you miss to say hello. Starting your day off on a positive note can fuel you with more energy, and drive you to make more positive choices throughout your day.   

Again, if you want to really maximize your newfound 30 to 60 minutes every morning, take FEWER THAN 10 of them and try these 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)

Subscribe to our blog to get twice weekly insights that will help you create a life of sustainable health.

What do you do to set yourself up for success? Let us know and we’ll retweet or repost our favorites! Use the hashtag #morninghabits

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What IS Fusion Wellness?

Since the beginning in 2007, we at Fusion Wellness (originally Holistic Health Fusion) have believed strongly in helping our clients achieve health and happiness by overcoming serious or long-term health/weight-related issues. Our number one priority is to help you meet your nutrition and health goals, whatever they may be.  We specialize in digestive disorders, weight loss, and auto-immune diseases, but help with everything from dietary changes such as veganism, vegetarianism or going gluten-free; decreasing inflammation; lowering blood pressure and/or cholesterol; or even just learning what it truly means to be healthy.

We understand the frustration of trying diet after diet, tactic after tactic seeking solutions for problems that seem unsolvable.  We understand that no ONE diet is going to be successful for EVERY person.  We will fuse together different dietary theories to discover what approach works best for you at this point in your life and guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that best support you.

Our goal is to help you to make gradual, lifelong changes that enable you to reach your current and future health goals. We begin with a “Strategy Session,” during which you’ll chat with FW Founder and Director, Monica Meadows, and from there will decide what the most effective plan of action will be.  And thanks to technology, we can support you no matter where you are! From phone calls to emails to teleclasses, it’ll be as if we’re next door neighbors!

We’re giving away a few Strategy Sessions a week: Start your journey toward increased health and happiness NOW by leaving a comment here or emailing hello@fusionwellnessinc.com

Saying “Sorry. No. And Thank You” with Meaning.

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Borrowed from the delightful Kris Carr, here is a few though on how to say what you mean and mean what you say!
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Sorry. No. Thank you …
January 28, 2013
I have a deep-rooted calling to feel happy. To love the skin I’m in and to embrace all the nooks and crannies that make me, me. I need peace of mind like I need oxygen. I need unstructured time like I need water. Consistent contentment and less stress probably boost my immune system more than green juice.

And yet I often get lost in my to-do list, complain about too many commitments and align myself with people who give me more headaches than joy. I’ve caught myself saying things like, “once I’m over this hump I’ll have more breathing room.” But here’s the thing about humps, there’s always another one on the next hillside. And humps hump. Yes, you read that correctly. They breed like rabbits!

I don’t know about you, but I suspect that sometimes my mouth moves before my brain has time to think. And as we all know, words are powerful. So as part of my peace-of-mind plan, I’ve decided to examine my language. Especially the use of the following words: Sorry. No. Thank you. Harmless, helpful words, right? Yet their overuse/misuse can slowly drain our self-worth and damage our relationships, while at the same time watering down their meanings. Consciousness takes practice, so let’s dive in.

Sorry.
There are right times to be sincerely sorry, but there are also wrong times. When I give someone a meaningful sorry, we both feel better. That’s true heart medicine, a 1000-mg dose. I do my very best to apologize when I’m wrong, but I often catch myself saying sorry for no reason at all.

I say sorry (even though I don’t need to) when …

I turn unwanted offers down (telemarketers, I’m talkin’ to you!)
I ask for what I need.
I stand up for myself.
Sorry slip-up flashback: When my new website launched, a disgruntled reader let me know that she didn’t like the design or my smile. In her mind, my site was too flashy, and I had no business running ads for my own books (perhaps she works for free, but I can’t). As for my smile, it was way too big and therefore not authentic. Naturally I was hurt and pissed! Unnaturally I responded with something like “I’m sorry you feel that way, I am proud of my new website and the work I do.” While I’ve always responded to negativity by either ignoring it or blasting it with a fire hose of sunshine, did I have to say sorry? No. Was I sorry? Heck NO. No need to apologize.

Sorry isn’t a band-aid or a replacement for a backbone. Sorry isn’t a “safe word” or a way to keep the peace at the sacrifice of your well-being.

There’s a difference between true remorse and a fear of being judged. Sweet friend, don’t say sorry if there’s nothing to be sorry for. Because, I don’t know about you, but when I mindlessly vomit apologies, I’m often left feeling like a powerless doormat. Yuck. Get off the floor.

No.
Instead of saying no when I need to, I turn my life into a constipated pretzel through a knee-jerk “yes” response.

I say yes when I should say no because …

I hate to let people down.
I underestimate how long projects will take, and I fail to prioritize my time.
I forget that my needs matter — that I matter as much as the other person.
Naughty no-no flashback: Once upon a time, I agreed to a speaking engagement on a cruise ship. Sounds breezy, right? Not for me. I get extreme vertigo on big boats that can last for months afterwards. So why on earth did I say yes? Several reasons, but mostly because the folks asking me were painfully pushy. They were strong about what they wanted, but was I? I wiggled. I put the answer off as long as I could but eventually caved and said “yes.” I immediately started to panic. How would I get through ten days of physical pain? Answer: I couldn’t! A month later I finally mustered a “no” and pulled out of the gig. Of course, by waiting I caused undue stress for all. If I had been upfront and able to put my needs first, I would have saved us both a lot of grief. Lesson learned.

Saying yes can feel good, and often comes from a positive place. It means we care about other people, want to do good things and spread happiness in the world. It means we’re optimistic and believe in our abilities. Sadly, though, few of us can make every dream match the reality of only 24 hours in a day. As my brilliant bestie Marie Forleo reminded us recently, get on the “No Train,” choo choo! While this may seem like obvious advice, how often are we consistent No Train conductors?

Think about my example. You can’t always “yes” your way out of a problem. Mindlessly agreeing may temporarily avoid discomfort, but it’s often short-sighted and even lazy. Instead of setting a boundary, we slip into “yes” amnesia, forgetting we’ve been here before. In this delusional state, there’s unlimited time, superhuman energy and a gaggle of soul-nannies who keep us fed, bathed and exercised. Sober up! Splash yourself with cold water and (gently) slap your cheek. If you’re worried about scarcity, let that go. Offers and opportunities will continue. Every unwanted “yes” takes you one step further from freedom, well-being and time with yourself and loved ones.

Thank you.
Gratitude is one of the holiest ways to honor and connect with yourself and others. Saying thank you for a generous gift is gracious, repeatedly gushing thanks because you feel guilty or undeserving is not.

I say thank you too much because …

I don’t feel worthy.
Love may never come again.
I don’t want to seem under appreciative.
Thank-less thank you flashback: During my actor-dancer period, I needed a loan to get through a rough patch. I borrowed the cash from a friend, and I insisted on a monthly payment plan. I was truly grateful. I always sent her my checks on time with a gushing note as an expression of thanks. But I had a burning feeling that it was never enough. Years later we had a falling out for a different reason. And what do you think she hit me with? “You never appreciated the money I lent you.” I could have written a personalized thank you across the sky (with my blood), and it still wouldn’t have been enough. One “thank you” or a thousand made no difference. Clearly something much bigger was going on, and that something had nothing to do with me.

A heartfelt thank you is polite and loving. Becoming a thank you Pez dispenser is just plain toxic. No one should hold you captive emotionally or treat you like a mooch. If you find yourself saying “thank you” too much that might mean someone is making you feel inadequate, and it’s time to re-examine the balance in your relationship. Perhaps they don’t deserve you. Look beyond your compulsion to say thank you and address the real issue or elegantly remove yourself from the drama. Bon Voyage!

Wrapping it all up: There’s a fine line between healthy and unhealthy use of language. It’s part of our spiritual journey to find our tipping points and gently adjust them. When I get clear on the why’s behind my sorry’s, no’s and thank you’s, I get clear on who and what needs to be embraced or released. I make room for more living and less second-guessing, more truth and less explaining, more relief and less regret.

Am I ready to live in that space more often?

YES, PLEASE, ABSOLUTELY!
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Yummy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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This is one of my go-to vegan chocolate chip cookie recipes!

Here are some tips from experience–
• the shape doesn’t change a lot in the baking process, so flatten them into cookie shape when putting them on the tray!
• I flip them over half way (about 5 minutes) into baking!
• the dough is super yummy, and SAFE to eat because no eggs!
• though it says the cinnamon is optional, add it!!! So yummy!

And once you’ve had a cookie (or two) don’t forget to get your exercise in later! You can make a start toward the fit body you deserve in under 10 minutes a day! Check out our 7 proven hacks for finally getting your body back in under 10 minutes a day (without a gym!)