Lots of Layers – Icebergs (or how to reduce stress in relationships)

Chronic stress is one of the most significant, and most common contributors to poor health and emotional suffering. While people need relationships, sometimes relationships can be the source of that chronic stress. We can’t always entirely remove ourselves from the relationship stressors, so the next best thing is learning to deal with those relationships so they no longer become a stress to us.

My home away from home is in Newfoundland, Canada and much of what has become LOL Living was inspired there. The landscape is rugged and beautiful and the people are some of the most amazing and inspiring that I have ever met. On two separate trips there this year, I went in search of icebergs.

If you have never seen a glacier or iceberg in person, they are truly awe-inspiring. They come in all shapes and sizes, they have beautiful designs and jagged edges and there is so much more to them than what you can even begin to see. They look so strong, but they are so fragile too. You have to be careful when you are near them because a piece may break off (calving) or the entire iceberg may flip over!

But what does that have to do with relationships? People are just like an iceberg. Who we are, how we think, how we feel, how we react and what we believe are all created by millions and millions of sights, sounds, tastes, touches and interactions.   People only let us see what they want us to see, but there is so much more underneath. Some tried to hide their imperfections, but, like an iceberg, there may be a crack deep inside that is just about the break. Worse yet, you may never know, just like an iceberg, when a person is about to flip!

How you react to a person might cause a person to crack of flip. Think about it…isn’t that what is happening in North America right now? There is so much hatred going on because people don’t take the time to look at the other person’s point of view. They pack on layers and layers of hatred because they teach it to their children. They make assumptions about other people’s actions that may or may not be correct. They don’t forgive the person for whatever difference they may see and that forgiveness is the key to managing your stress.

A good friend told me once that failing to forgive is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies. That is the best analogy that I have ever heard. When you carry grudges or anger, the only person that you hurt is yourself. Unless the person carries guilt about the situation, they get to live a happy life, while you suffer. If they do feel guilt, your forgiveness can help them deal with their guilt and relive the stress for your life. Win-win.

The important part of forgiveness that most people forget is that forgiveness does not mean that you have to put yourself into the same situation again. Forgiveness, to ourselves, means that we have released ourselves from the emotional turmoil and learned a lesson. From a stress perspective, leaving the emotional turmoil behind is the key, but if you want to avoid repeating that stressor, you have to learn a lesson.

In any stressful relationship, it is important to analyze the lesson. Not only does it minimize the risk of reoccurrence, seeing the situation as it really is helps with releasing the emotional stress. For example, what if a business partner forges your signature on a contract. What does that tell you about trusting that individual? Were the precautions that you should have taken to limit his access? Were there red flags that you missed? All of these things sound like stressors, but they can be turned into lessons.

Here are two of my favorite quotes that are especially applicable to here:

“Insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results” and

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

Forgiveness means that you forgive the person, it does not mean that you have to forgive the act. In my example above, you would forgive your business partner, but the lesson you would have learned is that he may not be someone you can trust in business. You can choose to discontinue all business relationships with him or you can choose to limit the trust until he proves himself again. Either way, you have removed the emotional stressor and you have limited the likelihood of reoccurrence.

When my children were growing up, I tried to teach them that if someone made them angry, remember that every person on this planet is going to lose someone or something on some day while they are on this earth. Take a deep breath, and imagine that right now is that day for that person. How would you react differently if that was really the case? You might still be angry, but your compassion would tend to lessen the blow.

Can you imagine what a different place the world would be today if everyone practiced some of these principles and taught them to their children? So the next time you interact with a person, think


That means:

  • There is so much more to the person than you can see;
  • They are layers and layers of happiness, anger, confusion, love and a million other emotions;
  • Those emotions and pressure (like icebergs) formed and shaped who they are;
  • They broke off from their family (or the glacier) and they have had a long path to get to where they are now;
  • There are millions of little cracks, instability and stressors that you can’t see and you don’t know what different kinds of pressure will cause;
  • Any person, or iceberg, can “flip” without apparent cause;
  • Always take the time to pause, breathe and reflect:
    • Take time to get to know the person, never rush;
    • Appreciate the beauty
    • Appreciate the differences between you
    • Show compassion and understanding for the flaws
    • Give them strength when their cracks are showing
    • Warm them up with love – it will cause them to melt a bit and soften up the hard edges!

Love of Letters – N

How can letters help your health? You would be surprised! Think about all of symbols and abbreviations in your life. Sometimes seeing them brings more feelings and emotions than a page of words. Why do you think emojis are so popular? One little face puts an entire emotional spin on your word(s). So how does “N” change your life? It is the key to tearing down bad habits (or building good habits!).

One of my goals this year was to complete my Level 2 Certification with Precision Nutrition. This is a year-long commitment to becoming what they call a “supercoach”. I can’t speak more highly about Precision Nutrition and the program has been a fantastic journey so far. What has been interesting though, is that, even if we spend an entire week on a topic, it may not hit you until later what it really means to you.

That was my experience with “N&N” (Notice and Naming). We have worked with N&N from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until this week that I discovered the impact. You can apply it to almost any habit that you want to change. As an example, let’s assume that you have an issue with overeating or eating large quantities of unhealthy food. Many people want to stop, but, somehow, they just “can’t”. It is actually very common because the hormones and emotions associated with that habit are very strong and the associated post-binge guilt is even worse. I speak from personal experience here, just in case you don’t think I can walk in your shoes. This is where N&N comes in.

Notice. There may only be a split second between I am going to “be good” and diving into a gallon of ice cream, but make the most of it. Try to scan your body for emotions, stress or any other body feelings. Over time, you can stretch that split second and start recognizing what it is that is driving you. Then just give it a Name (the second N). Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something that I have done that always triggers a binge? For example, endurance exercise can seriously increase your appetite. If you always have out of control eating after your long run, maybe you need to find a way to adjust your training or have available healthy, lower calorie/higher volume foods for that time. Maybe you have been having a lot of personal stress while still maintaining your super intensity workouts. Maybe swapping out a walk on the beach or a yoga session for some junk miles would lower your appetite.
  • What has my diet been like in the last 24 hours? Maybe there is a food that triggers your appetite. If you have been eating a lot of processed foods, maybe there is a chemical that is creating havoc with your hormones.
  • Are you worried about something? Who hasn’t heard of stress eating? If you eat that gallon of ice cream, is it really going to make the problem go away and won’t you have the additional guilt? This is a really tough one, but if you can stop yourself at that point by understanding what is going on, quickly replace it with something that works for you to relax. Here are some things that work for me:
    • A few minutes of conscious breathing. I breathe in quickly and completely for a count of 4, hold for a count of 16 and exhale slowly over a count of 8. I repeat this a few times and it calms me down immediately.
    • Listen to music. I love music and sometimes I might even dance!
    • Aromatherapy. Keep a bottle of lavender essential oil (or one that works for you) and smell it any time you are stressed. My dear husband gave me a bottle of the cologne that I used to buy for my dad. Any time I sniff the bottle, I feel like I am getting a warm hug from my dad.
    • Visualize. Daydream for a quick minute about a person or place that makes you feel happy.
    • Be creative here…the key is finding what works for you.
    • Most importantly, remember that 95% of what you worry about never happens. Try to reframe your worry into a brainstorming session! Instead of just worrying, be proactive and start planning how to manage if the worst things happen. At least you will be prepared and you can take action to minimize any risk.
  • Are you tired? This is a HUGE one for some people. When you are tired, it is just too hard to put up the fight. Again, recognize that you are tired, not hungry, and come up with a few ideas for quick energy:
    • Forget about caffeine! With caffeine comes the inevitable crash and you are right back where you started from. A better alternative would be to drink water. If you are dehydrated, your blood is moving sluggishly and it can really zap your energy.
    • Try the breathing here as well. When your blood does not have enough oxygen, again, you will feel tired or low on energy.
    • Pay attention to your diet. Notice if foods give you energy or make you sleepy. For me, eating more raw foods gives me more energy than you can imagine. That is great, except when I have salad at dinner and I can’t go to sleep. Starchy carbs tend to make me sleepy, so I usually have a lower carb breakfast and save the starches for dinner when I want a good night’s rest.
    • Make sure you are not overtraining and you are scheduling in enough rest and sleep. Check your bedtime routine to make sure you are getting quality sleep.

I have just presented a few ideas, but everyone is different. Play with the ideas and create your own. The key to creating the healthy lifestyle habit is making it easy and making it easy if finding what is easy for you.

The last missing piece is compassion. First you notice, then you notice and name and finally notice, name and create a strategy. Through this whole process, it is critical that you treat yourself with compassion. The guilt just adds another layer of stress that fuels the endless cycle. When you notice why you are overeating, that is the first step, but it is already an improvement. Praise yourself for any improvements, no matter how small, because it is still a step towards your goal. Praise yourself for your setbacks because you have still learned. Stop the vicious cycle and start N&N with compassion.


Loss of Lard – Meal Planning

A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Weight loss has become an obsession – not just in the U.S., but all over the world. LOL Living would just not be complete if I did not include healthy body composition as a part of a full and joyful lifestyle. But notice that I did not say weight loss. I said healthy body composition. If you lead with health, all the rest will follow. You will also notice that I said lard and not fat…that was by design. By my definition, lard is the excess adipose tissue that impacts your health. Fat is a living “organ” that is critical to our wellbeing and gives us some of the curves that make us beautiful. We do not want to lose fat, we only want to lose “lard.”

If we all want to lose our lard, what is the most common excuse for not eating right? Time. We never have enough time to spend on exercise or preparing healthy meals. A 2014 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that people who spent time on meal planning had a much higher quality and variety in their diet. What if 2 hours per week would ensure that you had ready access to healthy meals whenever you wanted it? That is where meal prep comes into play. Most restaurants do not start from scratch when they cook your meal, they already have sauces made, vegetables chopped and meat prepared. Why not implement those strategies in your own kitchen?

Choose any day that works for you (I like Saturday or Sunday) and set aside 2 hours to prep your food for a week. It sounds intimidating, but it can be done. Once you get used to it, I dare say you will never look back. Here are some basic steps to get you started:

  1. Have a preprinted standard grocery list that you can quickly plan out your shopping
  2. If you have special meals that you want to make, put those on your shopping list. If not, the select some vegetables and protein, for example, that you can prep for simple, no recipe meals
  3. Be sure to stock up on freezer and pantry items that help expand your meals such as:
    1. Frozen vegetables
    2. Eggs
    3. Spices
    4. Healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil)
    5. Frozen fruit
  4. After shopping, prep items and store them in glass containers in your refrigerator until you need them.
    1. Chop vegetables for the week including salad vegetables and vegetables for stir fry. You can blanch the vegetables quickly in boiling water before storing to shorten the cooking time
    2. Roast a spaghetti squash or spiralizer your favorite vegetable to make a lower calorie and veggie full “pasta” dish later in the week
    3. Cook potatoes and sweet potatoes in a slow cooker
    4. Pre-cook grains such as brown rice or quinoa
    5. Brown ground meat (beef, bison, veal, chicken, turkey, pork)
    6. Grill or roast chicken breasts and or thighs
    7. Make a few dressings or sauces
  5. During the week, when you do not feel like you have time to cook, pull out some precooked meat, vegetables, quinoa and a sauce and heat it in the oven while you get in a few laps around the block of some squats and pushups! You will have a delicious dinner in no time. Similar principles apply to breakfast and lunch. If you plan, it is easy to stay on track with healthy foods.
  6. When you have more than 2 hours to spend, here are some other things you can consider doing that will pay off later
    1. Make a large batch of stew or chili and package and freeze it in appropriate sized servings.
    2. When you make a batch of meatballs, double the batch and freeze some to be cooked later
    3. Make omelet muffins and freeze for a quick grab and go breakfast

The choices are truly endless. Try it and make up your own variations. The key is to take a little bit of time to prepare items that can be used in multiple meals.

What if you don’t relish the idea of 2 hours in the kitchen? Make it fun!

  • Turn on the radio. It may take a little longer to chop those veggies, but dancing while you work is always fun!
  • Listen to an audiobook. How often do you wish you had more time to read? Why not “read” while you cook?
  • Make it a family affair. Recruit your spouse or children to help you in the kitchen. Quality time and healthy meals are a win-win!
  • Call a loved one and put them on speaker while you chop. You might inspire them to start meal prepping!
  • Watch a movie! Ok, mostly listen to a movie but it is still a lot of fun
  • Invite your friends over and make a party of it. Everybody chops and cooks and then you share the food among you. More friends means more variety of food!

If you need more ideas to get you started on your meal prepping, contact me and let me tell you how a health coach can really add value to your health and well being.




Today is the first day of the rest of your life… LOL?

How many times have you heard someone make that statement, but have you really ever focused on what it means?   Does it really make you want to laugh out loud?   We all have a finite amount of time on this earth and we have already started using it.   Starting today, you only have so much time left.  Are you really using that time the way that you want to?   If not, why not?

I have always had a passion for life and I try to fill it with as much as I possibly can.  I love to travel and I have been to over 50 countries, most of them multiple times.  I get so excited when people ask me to help them plan a trip!  I love to help people and I love to talk travel.  What a great combination.

I have always been passionate about nutrition,  fitness and healthy living.  I love to talk about it, learn about, and, again, help people.  So much so that I went to massage therapy school for two years and passed the exam to be a certified body worker.  I started studying the methods of Pete Egoscue so that I could understand pain and help my friends.  I am currently studying to become certified as a personal trainer.   And I LOVE to cook healthy meals.  Those are the things that excite me.  I get so excited that I just want to help everyone.

That is the kind of passion everyone should have about all aspects of their lives.  And the truth is, everyone has something that they want to change, but either they are afraid, they don’t know how, or they just don’t have the support.   That is what LOL Living is all about.  It is about living the life that you want, your way.  It is living without fear and worry.  It is feeling like you can take on the world.

Let me give you an example – online dating.  If you have never experienced this phenomenon, then count your blessings!  If you have, you will know what I am talking about!  Everyone has to write a profile and, of course, everyone wants to make a great impression.  But you know what happens in a large majority of the time?  Many profiles are the person that they dream of being rather than the person they are.  They use old pictures, fudge the truth about the number on the scale or what their hobbies are, or even about what they do for a living.  I don’t understand why people do not have faith enough in themselves to be who they really are.   What is holding them back from being that person that they describe?

I took a hard look at myself and that is why I am writing this blog.  I am not spending enough time with the things that I am passionate about.  So, starting today, LOL Living is born.  I hope my words will inspire people to be the best that they can be and that you will let me be there for support.   One of my favorite quotes is how I plan to live my life from now on:

“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)



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