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How to Be Your Brain’s BFF

Coach Zak and GriffinThat’s a photo of Griffin with his beloved Coach Zak after his team won their first game of the entire fall/spring season 5-4! Griffin scored the game-winning goal and just all-around played awesome.

Each week various members of his team would bemoan their losses and look at future games with resignation and doubt. But not Griffin – every week he was excited to play and optimistic about his team’s chances.

I’m most proud of this moment because it reflected SO much of Griffin’s hard work – physically, yes, but especially mentally and emotionally.

We all need a strong foundation of brain health if we’re going to meet any undesirable situation with the mental and emotional strength that’s needed to work through it with equanimity.

Last week one of my clients felt frustrated and overwhelmed by the amount of energy it takes to respond powerfully to her negative thoughts, saying “Maybe it is meant to be hard to change over 30 years of mental conditioning…”

I answered her with an emphatic yes! Overcoming 30+ years of negative thoughts/conditioning is A LOT of work, BUT it doesn’t have to feel like a struggle.

We all know that living each day consumed by depression, hopelessness, powerlessness, anger, blame, guilt and every other negative feeling is hardly a walk in the park!

So the reality is that you will expend energy no matter what. But you get to decide how you focus it.

How can you focus your energy in positive ways, though? For years I have taught myself and my clients to rely on a cognitive/psychological approach to dealing with negative thoughts and feelings—and that has been very effective.

In the process, though, I’ve overlooked some facts of basic biology which show us how we can help our brains work even better. And once our brains are working better, our psyches no longer have to do SO MUCH of the heavy lifting.

In his book Unleash the Power of the Female Brain, Dr. Amen (a psychiatrist and world-renowned researcher) talks about how to develop healthy “brain habits” in order to help your brain “serve you rather than steal from you.”

He makes it clear that you CAN consistently feel good, have the energy to work with your thoughts AND dramatically boost the quality of your life.

Here’s how:

changing the world1. Identify your health goals and remind yourself of them every day.

This applies to physical health as well as brain health. Set goals—whether it’s to run a seven-minute mile or just walk around the block every day for a week—remind yourself of them consistently, and revise them as needed.

Of course, you need to make brain-healthy habits a priority every day, too. What are brain-healthy habits? To make things easier for you, I’ve included 4 easy actions below that will serve as remedies to the most common brain-unhealthy habits. So read on!

2. Make healthy decisions in advance.

Have you noticed that you feel practically compelled to have “just one more” glass of wine or roll after you’ve had the first? No, it’s NOT that you have no willpower!

It’s the fact that alcohol and wheat lower the functioning of the Pre-Frontal Cortex and dramatically decrease your ability to make good decisions. Creating a simple guideline to have only one glass of wine, or one roll, will lead to fewer regrets after a meal and set you up for success for hours after.

3. Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking.

I hear from so many busy women that they don’t have time for breakfast, or they think grabbing a banana before they head out the door in the morning is enough, and this is a huge mistake.

You’re literally starving your brain. You need to jump-start your brain by eating some high-quality protein (this can be simple, like a hardboiled egg). And for women who want to lose weight: this will also jump-start your metabolism and create the effect of burning more calories throughout the day!

You want to include high-quality protein at every meal (preferably every 2-4 hours) to balance your blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels are associated with lower overall blood flow to the brain and more bad decisions.

4. Reduce sugar intake; eliminate ALL artificial sweeteners.

I could devote a full article to this one (you can read Dr. Amen’s take on it here), but the upshot is that sugar is bad for your brain—and artificial sweeteners are bad, bad, bad for brain health.

5. Get at least seven hours of sleep at night.

Less than 7 hours of sleep is associated with lower blood flow to the brain and more bad decisions. This ONE thing could make the biggest difference in your brain health and overall quality of life, so please make this an absolute priority!

I’ve already shared so much in the way of how to choose better-feeling thoughts (what I call “mind maintenance”), but what I learned from Dr. Amen is that your brain can be a friend or foe depending on developing healthy brain habits (what I will now call “brain maintenance”).

Please follow these suggestions: if you do, I know your brain will be your BEST friend and you will feel MUCH better VERY soon.

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Mason and Griffin, Rainbow Community School Peace AwardThat’s a photo of Griffin with Mason LaMotte accepting the Rainbow Community School Peace Award on behalf of his dad, David, a local songwriter and activist for peace who was out of town for a retreat.

Griffin researched David’s life and interviewed him for his project, and what a rich life it is. David is an award-winning songwriter, speaker and author. In his most recent book, Worldchanging 101, he challenges the myth of powerless and makes a strong argument for how we are all changing the world whether we like it or not.

Sadly, too many people live their lives waiting for the “right” time to do what they really want and make a difference in the world. I’m delighted to share that my dear friend and client, Karen Spaiches, is offering a “Bite-Sized” Boot Camp to challenge that particular myth – and she has made it so easy and affordable, I hope you will jump in!! Read on to find out more!!

Are you bored or frustrated with your job? Have you put a dream on hold while you raised your family? Do you wake up anxious and confused about what to do today – or for the rest of your life? Maybe your kids have left the nest and you’re left to deal with the loneliness and emptiness, feeling lost and not sure who you really are anymore?

I understand how you feel! I was in your shoes for years. I lived in secret turmoil and anxiousness day in and day out, desperate for a way “out” but with no clue what I wanted “in” to. I was in a career that was not “me,” yet I excelled in it because it was what I was “supposed to do.” This career consumed me and exhausted me, and it controlled me through promotions, money and benefits. And it impacted every other aspect of my life. I was a mess. I had health scares because of the stress my career caused and because of my inability to deal with it appropriately. I was grumpy with my family and often worked rather than playing, missing out on the fun.

The bottom line? I was afraid. I was afraid to give up my salary, my benefits, my title, my office. What would people think? How would we survive? What would I do? I gave into my fears of not being good enough and living up to other people’s expectations. I traded my happiness for the sake of others, others who quite honestly really didn’t care. Only my ego tricked me into thinking that they did.

Finally, my desire for a life on my own terms overtook my fears. It was time for a change. I needed to do something I had never done before. I needed to take a risk.

The first risk was small. I took an online course and became certified in life coaching. I sat on it for a few months, pondering my next step. I talked incessantly about quitting my job to become a coach but didn’t have the guts to take action.

Then the next step presented itself. I hired a coach. I needed guidance, perspective and accountability to make my dreams come true. I needed help shifting my mindset from focusing on lack and worry to trust and faith in both the universe and in myself. This was the beginning of my path to self-discovery and deep learning!

changing the worldWithin months, I was ready to take the biggest risk of my life. I quit my stable, well-paid position to launch my own business! My coach helped me see the possibilities for my life, and placed my attention on what I truly wanted rather than what I thought was the “right thing” to do. I found ways around the salary and benefits by changing my thoughts around money and what I thought I “should do.” I no longer worried what people would think. I focused on why this was right for me.

With all the good that has happened, I wont lie. It’s not easy. I have days where I worry and feel uncertainty about our life. Some days I wonder if I have made the right decision. But here’s what I want you to know: some days it’s not easy, but most of the time it is because I choose for it to be.

In the past, I dwelled on problems for days, obsessed with my worries and creating horrible stories in my head. I focused on what was going wrong instead of what was going well. I didn’t understand the Law of Attraction or gratitude and I lost faith in higher powers.

Taking a risk and living life on my terms has changed all of that. I no longer worry for days. I have learned to replace worry with faith and trust. I know that I am in the right place, and instead of focusing on lack—instead of trying to predict and control the future, I am working on enjoying right where I am. None of us can control the future, but we can take action towards creating the future we wish to see. Wishing and hoping will not get you there, knowing what you want and taking action will!

And I want that for you. I want you to have clarity and awareness around the life you want, so you can live it on your own terms. This is the basis for my own journey and these two concepts were the catalyst for my six-month Signature Dream Life Design Program and my Bite-Sized Boot Camp – and enrollment is open for the Boot Camp right now!

I’ve made it a super easy and affordable way to get started creating your dream life. But don’t think too long – enrollment closes on April 12th, and the price will go up in the future!

To find out more and enroll, click here.

How to Be Your Brain's BFF

April 12, 2016

That’s a photo of Griffin with his beloved Coach Zak after his team won their first game of the entire fall/spring season 5-4! Griffin scored the game-winning goal and just all-around played awesome. Each week various members of his team would bemoan their losses and look at future games with resignation and doubt. But not

Read the full article →

You're Changing the World (whether you like it or not)

April 5, 2016

That’s a photo of Griffin with Mason LaMotte accepting the Rainbow Community School Peace Award on behalf of his dad, David, a local songwriter and activist for peace who was out of town for a retreat. Griffin researched David’s life and interviewed him for his project, and what a rich life it is. David is

Read the full article →

How an "Empathy Jolt" Jumpstarts Your Happiness!

March 29, 2016

That’s a photo of Griffin with 2 of his BFFs after an impromptu Easter Egg Hunt. I thought they might be too old for it, but when I asked if they were interested their all-out enthusiasm confirmed that you’re never too old for friends, fun AND candy! Along with Easter I also celebrated a very

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How to Say No to Other People and Say YES to Yourself (a proven strategy for doing what lights YOU up)

March 22, 2016

That’s a photo of me and Doug celebrating his birthday at our favorite French bistro. Notice the Paris skyline in the background? C'est magnifique! I’m SO close to pulling the trigger and sending my revised book proposal to my agent. At which point I hope she’ll sell it. Fingers crossed!! Writing the proposal (not to

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A fool-proof strategy for making your amygdala hijack-proof

March 15, 2016

That’s a photo of Griffin with his best friend and Coach Josh after the first game of the season. Griffin scored a goal and he was so proud of himself. He scored 3 goals in the entire fall season and had a personal goal to make it 5 this season—and now he feels very confident

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Scientific Proof of the Pain Body! (my big book breakthrough!)

March 8, 2016

That’s a photo of Doug, Griffin and me. We’re holding the British edition of Doug’s book Tales of a Fifth Grade Knight – renamed as Isaac Thompson and the Knights of Castle School. It was our birthday present to Doug and he loved it! It’s been fun to see all the words they changed –

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Science-Based Tools for Finding and Living Your Bliss

March 1, 2016

That's a photo of Doug and me on a very special date night last week. I feel chagrined to admit that we hadn't had one since before Christmas! It couldn't have come at a better time though, because it capped off a week of celebrating MANY BIG WINS for me and my clients. Here's a

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Change Your Brain and Change Your Life (and stop living by default!)

February 23, 2016

That’s a photo of Griffin presenting his “Science Behind the Smile” project for his school’s Science Fair. Like me, Griffin is fascinated by brain science and what it tells us about our behavior and our ability to create the experiences we want in our lives. His project was especially timely because it coincided with a

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