Archive for the ‘SELF’ Category

4 Ways to Breathe More and Stress Less

by Hilton Head Health Intern Kelsey Camien

While life can be demanding, there are techniques to overcome your daily stresses. Meditation is a great way to help alleviate stress in less time than you would think. In just 10-15 minutes a day, you can have a fulfilling meditation practice with these 4 tips:

lisette meditate 300x300 4 Ways to Breathe More and Stress Less

Create a routine.

Practice in the same spot every time. This will help condition your mind to move into your meditation practice faster. If it’s possible, choose a location where you only meditate: maybe a chair outside or lying on a mat. It’s best to find a quiet, comfortable place without clutter and distractions.

Meditate at the same time daily, this will help solidify the practice. Some like to meditate upon waking up to help center themselves for the day, others choose right before bed to unwind. You can also try a mid-day meditation to help relax yourself right before or after a stressful moment.

Creating this pattern will become a value in your life, a habit you won’t want to break.

Connect to your breath.

Connecting to your breath is a key component while meditating. Using a mantra, which is a sound, word, or phrase, can be an aid in doing so. There are countless mantras, so choose what resonates best with you. Some like to count the breath: 1-2-3-4 on the inhale and 1-2-3-4 on the exhale. You can also use phrases such as “I am peace” or “I am.” Examples in practice: inhale “I am” exhale “peace” or inhale “I” exhale “am.”

Be kind and gentle with yourself. Thoughts will come in from time to time. Think of these thoughts as clouds that float by, allow them to dissolve and return back to your breath and mantra.

Be passive, not active.

While meditation does take some practice, it shouldn’t be something you stress about; that is what you’re trying to relieve! When you begin your meditation, give yourself permission to let go of all the stress, worries, and tension you may be holding onto. Set a timer with a gentle chime and tell yourself that this is your time of day when all the cares of the world seem far away. The timer will eventually sound and life will be right where you left off.

Be still.

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Set an intention not to move during your practice. You may notice that more activity is happening inside of you now that you are still on the outside. With commitment, your physical stillness will lead to emotional and mental stillness. Over time, this will become habitual. Every time you sit still, your inner frenzy will turn into a calm and peaceful state of mind.


How to Use Mindfulness to Reduce Cravings

We are rolling into the Bermuda Triangle of food holidays and the sweetest of them all, Halloween, kicks off the craving madness. Just weeks away, the Halloween candy invasion is unescapable. It’s about this time when your sweet-tooth begins to behave more like a sabre-tooth. How can you sooth the savage beast?

Halloween Candy 300x300 How to Use Mindfulness to Reduce Cravings

Mindfulness vs. Chocolate Cravings

It turns out that exercises in mindfulness have proved very effective in reducing candy cravings. Julien Lacaille, a psychologist at McGill University in Quebec, organized a study to see how mindfulness skills training can reduce chocolate cravings. Her surprisingly positive results were published in the May, 2014 edition of the journal Appetite.

Lacaille enlisted 196 self-proclaimed chocolate fiends for the study and divided them into five groups. Four of the groups received training in specific mindfulness techniques and were directed to practice them for two weeks whenever a chocolate craving arose. Members of the fifth group were told to distract themselves as a way to fend off cravings.

The Mindfulness Trifecta

The three mindfulness techniques used were:

Awareness: Simply noticing one’s thoughts, or just noticing the craving.

Acceptance: Not passing judgment on one’s thoughts, or noticing the craving and not judging it good or bad in any way.

Disidentification: Distancing oneself from the cravings by thinking of craving-related thoughts as separate from oneself. In other words, the candy craving is actually not real because it is separate from who you are. It’s as if you refuse to own it.

The Crucial Technique

The group that became skilled at practicing the disidentification mindfulness technique, which involved distancing themselves from their craving after acknowledging it, had a significant decrease in chocolate cravings. “They developed less-intense cravings for chocolate because they now perceived it as generally less desirable,” Lacaille said.

As you battle the onslaught of candy cues this month, use disidentification mindfulness to help bolster willpower.

What steps are you taking to stay mindful for the holidays?


Caitlin Kiernan’s Second Chance Strategy


Keirnan Caitlin 300x300 Caitlin Kiernans Second Chance Strategy

Caitlin Kiernan, breast cancer survivor and established beauty/style/health expert recently visited Hilton Head Health as an InSPArational Speaker for September. She spoke personally about her journey with multiple back surgeries followed by her diagnosis of breast cancer and then her double mastectomy. And she spoke candidly about how her personal life, career and in essence her everyday was affected by her health issues. As Caitlin said,

“While work, back surgeries and cancer almost killed me, they gave me life; [and] pushed me to live a better life and be a better person.”

She faced all her adversity head on and she emerged enlightened with an even brighter smile. When you suffer any great loss, you change. It’s almost inevitable but you have to choose to change into a more positive or a negative person.

In the midst of all the seem to be chaos happening around her, Caitlin developed what she calls her “2nd Chance Strategy”:

  1. Say yes to as many things as I can. Live life to its fullest and don’t allow fear or uncertainty get in the way.
  2. Never be negative. Be open to the good things life has to offer, otherwise you can definitely miss out.
  3. Speak good intentions when someone is not being such a great person, i.e., rude. Caitlin imagines the rude/mean person as a young child being loved to remind herself their not always like this.
  4. Stop being afraid of change. The small acts of being brave bring about transformation.

Caitlin’s strategy is great example of how to positively affect your environment before you your environment has the chance to negatively affect you.

What tips do you have to stay positive when your world gets topsy-turvy?


Why I Taught My Kids to Cook

The Routine

Wake up. Coffee. Lunches made. Quick breakfast…hopefully. Homework signed. Must catch the bus.

It’s a seasonal dance. School has started.

The End of Summer

We mourn the end of summer while craving routine. However, as the school routine begins to take shape, like a marching band shuffling into a recognizable form during halftime, we begin to realize what a precious commodity time becomes.

The school year ups the ante on parental job responsibilities. Casual summers give way to a never-ending taxi service to soccer, cheerleading, tennis, softball, and tutoring. After working all day, managing household responsibilities, picking up and dropping off multiple children for their sports practice of choice and then helping with mind-numbing homework, cooking dinner feels like climbing Mount Everest.

My feet hurt from this seasonal dance, so I did the unimaginable. I taught my kids how to cook. I can’t take credit for this brilliant idea (and it is brilliant.) My brother and sister-in-law clued me in.

The Brilliant Idea

This is how it went down. At a recent birthday celebration for my sister-in-law I couldn’t help but marvel at her impressive birthday cake. When I inquired about who made it I was told that her daughter, my niece Olivia, baked it. I was spellbound. My awe-inspired distraction continued as my brother furthered the conversation by telling me that he and his wife taught their children how to cook beginning at age ten and by age 12 both his children were responsible for cooking dinner one night a week.

I told you it was brilliant. This idea, teaching your children how to cook and then giving them meal preparation responsibilities, works on so many levels. It provides kids with a vital skill for ensuring a long-term, healthy relationship with food. It gives them a greater appreciation for fresh ingredients. It cultivates a palate that prefers healthy, homemade foods over fast and processed foods. Last, but not least, it offers much needed help to busy parents.

The Plan

Start by teaching your kids how to cook some of their favorite dishes and how to follow a recipe. Then provide them with new recipes they can try out as their cooking skills improve. Eventually, they will be willing to go it alone…creating their own culinary wonders.

We even have a simple recipe video to help you start your kids healthy cooking experience off the right way, with Peanut Butter Hummus.


Body Image Vs. Self-Esteem

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For most of us, carrying excess weight becomes a heavy burden on our self-esteem. We look in the mirror with self-loathing and the way we feel about our body slowly becomes the way we feel about ourselves.
I was reminded of this dynamic recently on an invigorating power walk. Pumping my arms and taking long enthusiastic strides along my favorite work-out route, Pit Bull blasted through my headphones. Passing a familiar home with a for-sale sign in the front yard I took notice of an addition to the sign that read, “I’m Beautiful Inside.” Wow, what a great reminder!

Body Image

As our body image takes shots at our self-esteem, we need to learn to fight back. Changing our body takes time, so some unsavory messages are bound to surface on occasion. It’s important that when that happens,

“we turn our attention to our inner strengths so that we don’t provide fertile ground for those negative messages to grow. Remembering that we are not our bodies, our bodies are where we live.”

What are the qualities contained within the body that you admire or love? What are things you love about yourself that have nothing to do with your body? For instance, I love my sense of humor, my compassion, my ability to be non-judging and accepting of others. Those are things that make me beautiful inside, just like the real estate sign says.

Inner Beauty

When we remind ourselves of our inner beauty, it makes us more accepting of our body and preserves our self-esteem. That’s really a win-win situation. You can love your body and still want to change it, but reminding yourself of some of your virtuous qualities makes it a lot easier to do.

Give it a try. Write down five things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your body for the next ten days straight. I guarantee that at the end of the ten days you will feel infinitely better about both yourself and your body!


3 Healthy Lifestyle Tips from Dr. Romie

We recently enjoyed an incredible, 2-day “Mindset Matters” Workshop led by Minfulness expert, Dr. Romila “Dr. Romie” Mushtaq! Our InSPArational Speaker, Dr. Romie’s workshop included a lecture discussing steps to help you conquer stress, revitalizing sunrise beach yoga and ended with a relaxing session of meditation. Because Dr. Romie shared such impactful information that can help anyone looking to improve their mind-body connection and their overall health, we’re sharing 3 of our favorite tips from the weekend workshop:

DrRomie 300x300 3 Healthy Lifestyle Tips from Dr. Romie

1. Self compassion through self-care is not selfish! Think about all the roles you play: mom/dad, sister/brother, caretaker, student, therapist, house manager, etc. You have to take time and care for yourself to take care of others.

“When you give from a place of empty, you only hurt your mind and body.” – Dr. Romila

2. When you choose to forgive those around you, you choose to move on despite what may or may not have transpired. People that choose to hold onto past hurt for 12 months of longer are more likely to have a heart attack/stroke than someone with diabetes!

“We forgive ourselves when we forgive others.” – Dr. Romila

3. Practice 2o minutes of gratitude meditation could literally change your life. Take time out to be thankful for your life and everything in it. Within just 8 weeks, 20 minute meditation sessions can reshape how your brain responds to anxiety/stress and even help improve your memory!

Remember to breath and stay grateful! Learn more about our next InSPArational Speaker, Andie Mitchell, NY Times bestselling author of It Was Me All Along.


Hand over the chocolate and Use these 9 Tips from Dr. Pamela Peeke

Dr.Peeke 1 300x300 Hand over the chocolate and Use these 9 Tips from Dr. Pamela Peeke

Hand over the Chocolate and No One gets Hurts was the second of two lectures presented by Dr. Pamela Peeke, our Indigo Spa‘s April InSPArational Speaker, during her recent stay at Hilton Head Health. Because of how much our Guests enjoyed Dr. Peeke’s visit, we wanted to share some of her nuggets of inspiration.

Take on a mindset of gratitude and take time to recreate a new normal for yourself:

1. Be careful when you use the word just, know that it means a justification will follow. Don’t fall into the trap. (I won’t work out just for tonight. I’ll eat un-healthfully just this one time.)

2. Beware of what people say about you, that’s their story for you NOT your story for you. When you own your story, you can control your story and not be controlled by what others say about you.

3. There’s nothing wrong with a little obsessiveness. Use your obsessiveness to stay accountable to yourself. But don’t go overboard. Sometimes, you will need to give yourself some slack.

4. Every lifestyle choice you make matters. Always be crystal-clear with yourself as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Your ‘why’ should be powerful and personal to you.

Use Dr. Pam’s version of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sublimely Simply) when dealing with how much you eat and what you eat:

5. Think about what works for you. You need to know what does work for you, in order to know what doesn’t. A trick to help you figure out what works is to ask yourself two questions before you eat. Honestly answering these questions will help you identify your binge-ables and encourage clear-minded, conscious decisions towards your food choices.

  • Will I feel a loss of control when I eat this?
  • Will I feel shame, blame or guilt after I eat this?

6. The older you are the less food you need to eat. If you’re older, eat strategically with low fat and high fiber. Now, it does mean you need to plan this but it will make things so much easier. (Easy meal planning tips right here.)

7. Eat more mindfully. Go slower and take time to savor your food. Enjoy every bite.

Remember these basic building blocks to harness your own success:

8. To be a success, you must have a good sense of humor. Period.

9. Release any feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and defeat. Instead remind yourself of these iconic words: “Believe. Acheive. Succeed.” – Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), Olympic track and field champion.

What is your biggest barrier to acheiving your new happier, healthier lifestyle?


The Secret to Everyday Happiness

The Secret to Happiness

In honor of the International Day of Happiness, I thought I would share my much coveted secret to happiness. You see, I am undoubtedly one of the happiest people I know. The only possible exception is my Hilton Head Health trainer, David Chesworth. He may match my happiness but his propensity to exceed it is just dysfunctional if you ask me.

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It may sound rather braggadocios in declaring my superior happiness but the great thing about being happy is that you don’t let naysayers steal your happiness with jealousy or judgments. Happiness is a gift that should be protected with fierce conviction. It is a virtual force-field that shields you from the dark-side – the happiness thieves.

A much dismissed fact about happiness is that it’s a choice. Hearing that syrupy saying, “See the glass as half full instead of half empty” can cause an involuntary twitch. However, the deeper meaning behind that trite adage is that happiness is almost always an option. Most moments and life events give us an opportunity to choose a perspective that leads to happiness and optimism. Let’s test this theory. When you wake up this Friday make the decision to BE happy. Set your sights on happiness. Later that day take a moment to reflect on your success. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that at day’s end you will still be happy.

Inherent in most decisions we make is the end-goal of more happiness. We choose a certain job because we think it will make us happy. We choose a home or hometown because we think living there will make us happy. We choose a companion because we believe being with them will make us happy. We exercise and eat nutritiously because we believe doing so will lead to being healthier, and well, happier. In other words, we put a great deal of work into securing our happiness. We invest a lot of our time, money and effort in the pursuit of happiness. Want to know a secret? I’ve discovered a great short cut.

I’ve discovered a back-road, or alleyway, that gets you to happiness lickety-split. It takes hardly any time, costs nothing, and is super easy. My secret to cost-effective, effortless happiness is gratitude. Not just normal, run-of-the-mill gratitude but rather purposeful, decisive cultivation of gratitude. Gratitude is the force behind the happiness force field.

Some might say that happiness and gratitude are inseparable. Although there is truth in that conclusion, there are times when happiness feels illusive. Gratitude, on the other hand, is always available to you. All we have to do is look inward, recalling some of our most joyful memories. Acknowledging the people that have brought great love and learning to our life. All we have to do is take a single moment to reflect on some of our many blessings, most of which we take for granted.

Happiness doesn’t really have to be achieved. It just needs to be relived and we do that by counting our blessings. Our blessings are abundant…fresh fruit, clean drinking water, community, a puppy kiss, fragrant breezes, belly laughs, a helpful friend, a good night sleep and the list goes on and on.

The secret to my happiness can be summarized in one sentence: Happiness is a choice that begins by cultivating gratitude. When we experience gratitude happiness rises to the surface of our hearts and in that moment we are abundant.


What Does it Take to Make Your Skin Fit & Firm?

by Celeste Hilling, Health & Beauty Expert and CEO of Skin Authority 

DSC 3140 300x199 What Does it Take to Make Your Skin Fit & Firm?

With the amazing programming at Hilton Head Health encouraging you to live well and lose well, the theme of  “transformation continues” in The Indigo spa where the Skin Authority team has designed the Fit & Firm facial series to focus on helping you achieve your full skin health potential. Most importantly, it is about designing a simple daily product routine which fits your unique needs and home lifestyle. Just as a commitment to a daily workout routine and nutrition choices can transform your body, a commitment to the daily skin health product routine can transform your skin. Each Fit and Firm facial incorporates three key areas of focus: skin cardio, strength training and topical nutrition.

  • Skin Cardio speeds up cell turnover so dry, damaged or discolored cells are revolving off while plump, moist, new cells are being brought to the surface for a clear, healthy glow.
  • Strength training combines the power of specialized proteins and Vitamin D to build a stronger support structure for the skin. This step encourages the development of collagen and elastin which are nature’s fillers for a lifted, firm appearance and line reduction.
  • Finally, your daily dose of topical nutrition is applied. Just as balanced nutrition is important to boosting your immune health, topical antioxidants are important to protect and nurture the new, fit cells we are producing daily. Less than 1% of the nutrition we ingest ever makes it way to the skin, so it is critical to give the skin its daily dose topically!

The transformation is visible immediately as your skin feels tighter, firmer and smooth to the touch. Your coach will assemble an easy-to-follow home product routine which will keep the results going between treatments. Some fun facts to keep in mind for a healthy skin lifestyle:

  1. Simplify – Having a problem sticking to a routine? Consistency is key. Simplify to no more than three to four steps in the morning and at night. In the morning, you need a mild gel cleanser, an anti-oxidant such as Vitamin C and a sunscreen moisturizer. Before going to bed, use resurfacing ingredients such as AHAs and retinols in addition to restorative peptides.
  2. Shop smarter – Shop for skin care the way you shop for food, by looking at the cost per ounce. Cheaper is not always what it appears. A product may be priced at $19.99, but it is .2 of an ounce, so the actual cost is $100 per ounce. For $100, you should be receiving professional grade results! Instead, invest in complimentary consultations with licensed experts, like those found at The Indigo Spa to select products ideal for your concerns with professional-grade ingredients.
  3. Concentrate on Concentrations – Take a look at the active ingredients and ensure that any treatment product has a pH below four. The human skin ranges from 4.5-5.5 pH. A product should be below the pH level of the skin for maximum penetration. Otherwise, you might as well be using water!


How to Pack Your Own Lunch, Like a Champ

At 5 am my alarm goes off. Up and at it I go. Goal one: Put in my contacts. Goal two: Grab all of my belongings for the day and head to my 6 am workout. I have definitely forgotten my fair share of essential items for the day (e.g., you can ask a few of Hilton Head Health’s employees, ha); but one thing I will never forget is my packed lunch. I always bring my lunch box/cooler filled with breakfast, lunch and a few ice packs. After my workout, I have my breakfast within the hour post-training. I wish I could do a hot breakfast every now and then, but I save those for weekends. My two typical breakfast options:

  • ¾ cup 1-2% cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup fresh berries (whatever is on sale)
  • ¼ cup nuts (cashews, pecans, or almonds)
  • 2-3 T. toasted oats or low sugar granola
  • 1 cup cooked cereal (oats or buckwheat) or ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup mango + ¼ cup blueberries
  • 2 T. homemade nut butter (almond or cashew)

Meal Planning Tip:  I portion out 3-4 breakfasts on Sunday.  Grab & Go daily.


DSC 3168 300x300 How to Pack Your Own Lunch, Like a Champ

My work day begins and soon enough it is 12 or 12:30 pm and I am ready for some lunch. I typically take a thermal walk after lunch or get in a walk before I eat to clear my head. Chef Karla Williams and Chef Carrie know the drill…I take my cooler to the Healthy Kitchen and I typically sit in one of my favorite H3 rooms while they are prepping for an event.  It is like my own personal demo while I reheat my lunch. I am thankful I prepared most of my lunches on Sunday, just like breakfast. I can’t imagine hitting the 12:00 hour five days a week and not knowing what I was doing for my food.  It is too important for me to forget.  No one “forgets” to eat…it simply isn’t a priority in that person’s life at the moment. Below are a few lunches that are easy to meal prep on Sunday while tasting delicious a few days later. I usually repeat these lunch items a few days in a row for meal prepping purposes and will most likely switch things up once or twice during my Monday through Friday.

  • ½ cup cooked whole grain (rice, farro, etc.)
  • ¾ cup cooked roasted eggplant and onions
  • 4-5 oz. coconut slow cooker pulled chicken
  • ¾ cup roasted sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts
  • 4-5 oz. herb grilled pork tenderloin
  • ½ cooked cilantro brown rice
  • 1 cup stir-fried peppers and onions (seasoned)
  • ¼ cup black beans
  • 3 oz. grilled chicken
  • 3-5 cups spinach
  • ¼ cup blueberries, cherry tomatoes, avocado
  • 2 T. sunflower seeds
  • 4 oz. Salmon (from night before)
  • 2 T. homemade dressing

To some, these lunches may appear more like traditional dinners; however, it is essential to have a balanced and satisfying mid-day meal. These meals carry me through most of my afternoon and I know I have done everything possible to set myself up for success. Put in the effort to create a lunch that you enjoy and I promise everyone will start coming to you for daily lunch inspiration. 😉


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