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January 8, 2018

A 12 Week Class for You & Your Spouse to Transform Relationship Disaster Into Marital Bliss

*Are you wondering what the heck happened to the awesome, fun-loving spouse you thought you married?

*Is your spouse driving you totally bonkers? 

*Do you keep fighting about the same old issues over and over with no resolution?

*Does it feel like you and your partner are speaking completely different languages? 

If so, this class is for you. 

In this 12-week class, you will learn:

• How to develop healthier expectations for your marriage & your spouse while ditching the impossible standards set by every fairytale ever written

• How to communicate in ways that create deep understanding, even if you’re a whiz at avoiding any talk about “feelings”

• How to fight fair and resolve conflict so you can get on with being best friends who totally dig each other

• The skills needed to master money management…and quit fighting about it already

• How to turn up the heat on your sex life so it’s no longer a snooze

Your Instructor, Nicole Iacovoni

As a psychotherapist and relationship expert with over 15 years of experience under my belt- and a happily married wife of 7 years who still adores her husband- I’m living, breathing proof that you can have a marriage and spouse you’re head-over-heels in love with!

Over the years, I’ve helped countless couples add more spark, connection, and bliss to their marriages- and brought back the passion and FUN that attracted them to each other in the first place!

Plus, you’ll get to swap stories and tidbits of advice with other couples who understand how freakin’ hard marriage can be…

…AND…

…you’ll get hands-on worksheets, tools, and strategies to use at home, so you can break free from the old habits that are keeping you cranky and miserable in your marriage. 

Class starts February 12th and meets EVERY MONDAY from 6:00-7:00 pm

Seats are LIMITED!

Enroll by February 5th to secure your seat!

* This class may be covered by your health insurance plan. Contact us directly for details. 

CALL TODAY TO ENROLL! 570-317-2999

             Have you ever encountered someone who is chronically negative? Negative people will often complain about their circumstances, blame others for their problems, make harsh judgements about other people and the way they live their lives, and take little ownership of their own feelings and reactions. Oddly enough, many people lack awareness of their negativity, yet don’t understand why they aren’t happy.

            We’ve all encountered negative people in our lives, and it’s no big deal when it’s someone we never have to see again, like the teller at the bank or the grouchy guy in line behind us. It’s different when we’re obligated to have an ongoing relationship with a negative person though. We can’t always run away from or avoid our boss, our spouse, our neighbor, or a family member. There are bound to be situations in which we’re forced to be in their company, and when we are, it’s hard to keep their negativity from rubbing off on us. 

             So, how does one prevent “negativity contamination”? How does one cope with negative people while still maintaining your own personal sense of integrity, dignity, and self esteem? How do we protect ourselves from being sucked into negativity or engaging in the drama often created by negative people?

          Before we dive into some concrete strategies for coping with negative people, let me first bring your attention to an important point of consideration: At one time or another, we’ve all been “that guy”. No one is immune to negativity. We all have bad days. We all have times when we vent, complain, or bitch about someone who we feel did us wrong. We all have times when we stir up drama, whether we’re aware of it or not. Sometimes YOU are the negative person. So, the first thing to remember when you’re dealing with a chronically negative person is that it’s not you vs. them. There is no “other” here. We’re all the same. The only difference that exists between people is the frequency, intensity, and awareness of the negativity. 

               Now, if you regularly have contact with a chronically negative person, you need a game plan to help you cope. It’s not easy to repel the negative energy that radiates from the perpetually negative people in our lives, but it’s possible. 

Here’s some tips to help you cope with negative people in a kind, compassionate way:

1. Don’t take it personally. 

What other people say and do is because of them; not because of you. Some people have a natural tendency to react negatively to, well, everything! But you aren’t doing anything to cause that negative response; they’re choosing to react that way (whether they have conscious awareness of the choice they’re making or not). By not taking it personally, you’re freeing yourself from needless suffering, and their upset doesn’t become yours. 

2. Choose empathy over judgement. 

When you’re listening to someone rant and rave about how much everything sucks, it’s natural to feel annoyed, especially if you pride yourself on trying to stay positive. It’s easy to judge people who complain a lot and see them as ungrateful or purely pessimistic. Rather than form these harsh judgements (which is basically a sign that YOU’RE being negative!), try to have empathy instead. Think about what it might be like to walk a day in their shoes. Maybe they’re facing obstacles and challenges they don’t yet know how to deal with. We’ve all been there, right?!  You might be able to see the silver lining in their situation, but they might not yet see it. When you choose empathy over judgement, you maintain you’re own integrity, and the loving energy that flows from you as a result of that can have a calming effect on the person who’s being negative. 

3. Find the good. 

This tip ties into the previous one. When someone is all wrapped up in their circumstances, they get tunnel vision. They can only see what’s directly in front of them, and what they see is often all the hardship and struggle they’re going through. As someone who isn’t so close to the situation, you might be able to find the good in their situation much easier than they can. When you help a negative person find the good in their lives, it shifts their mindset and expands their vision to see that more options exist for them than they previously thought were possible. Sometimes, this one small action can help them break out of the negativity their stuck in. If they choose to keep paying attention to the bad though, that’s on them, and you can rest easy knowing that you acted with kindness and helpfulness. 

4. Notice the ego.

The ego part of the mind is the part that REACTS. It reacts to the world, to our circumstances, to other people, and to ourselves. The ego is irrational, power hungry, and sees everything in all-or-nothing, black-or-white terms. We all have an ego, and it flares up from time to time, convincing us that we’re right and they’re wrong, we’re better than others, and we need to put people in their place and teach them a lesson. The ego loves to hate. It hates other people, and sometimes, it makes us hate ourselves. It feeds on creating enemies in our lives, and it can turn you against someone in an instant without you even being aware that it’s happening.

            Because everyone has an ego, we’re all susceptible to it taking control over us and causing us to think and act irrationally. When you observe someone being really negative, what you’re observing is the ego taking over them. When you’re being negative, the ego is taking over you. It happens to everyone, and the only way to take back control of your thoughts and feelings is to notice the ego at work and call it out. When you stand back and see the ego for what it is, you take away it’s power, and it can no longer control you. Very few people know this trick though, so remember this when you’re coping with chronically negative people. The ego is not who we truly are.  When someone is thinking and behaving in a negative way, it’s not a reflection of their true essence or character.  Rather, their negative thoughts and behaviors are most likely a indicator their ego is taking over and they don’t have awareness of it. 

5. Take time to recover.

Even if you practice all these tips, you’re bound to feel exhausted after being in the company of a negative person. They have a way of sucking the life out of us due to their tendency of making life overly hard and complicated. When you’re dealing with a negative person on a regular basis, you need to take time to recover and restore your own positive energy once it’s depleted. The way to go about doing so will look different for everyone. When I feel drained by negative energy, I go for long walks with my dog, meditate, listen to music, journal, or sit quietly and hold in my mind all my blessings to stir up feelings of deep gratitude. This helps me mentally and emotionally recalibrate and helps me to remember that I’m in control of my thoughts, feelings, and responses at all times. 

            Every single moment, you choose how to respond. You’re in complete control of the way you perceive other people and the world and the reactions you have to everything you experience. You have the power to choose how you’ll respond to negativity. Will you engage in it? Will you feel angered by it? Will you take that negativity on and store it? Will you let it roll off of you? Will you diffuse it?

           You can’t control other people or how they choose to respond, as much as you might like to. Everyone has free will, and it isn’t our job to go around trying to change people. However, you can practice these tips for coping with negativity and feel a deeper sense of control over your own feelings about the people you’re interacting with, regardless of how they choose to respond. Furthermore, by being aware of your own reactions and when the ego tries to take over, you’ll be better at preventing negativity in yourself. In essence, you’ll start being the change you want to see, which is truly the best way to influence negative people to make positive changes. 

Nicole Iacovoni is a licensed psychotherapist, personal & financial development trainer, and author dedicated to helping you create a life of happiness & prosperity. Her work is centered around personal growth and holistic health and wealth building. Nicole takes an honest, straight-forward approach to helping clients identify where they currently are in their life’s journey. With expertise in how our DESIRES, EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BELIEFS influence our success, Nicole helps clients create a concrete action plan for living the life of their dreams.

Depression seems to have become an epidemic. Nearly 15 million Americans are diagnosed with depression each year, and one in seven of those diagnosed are treated with medication. Often times, depression is treated like a disease; one that’s inherited, based on biology, and requires long-term treatment with medications. But depression is more like a syndrome than a disease, and a diagnosis of depression isn’t a devastating terminal prognosis. On the contrary, depression can be seen as a guidepost that alerts us of the need to care for ourselves in better ways. 

You might be wondering, “What do you mean by depression being like a syndrome”? Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a painful blister on your foot. The blister could have been caused by a number of different things. Maybe your new shoes created it or your long hike uphill caused it to form. No matter what the cause, the pain you feel is simply your body telling you that something is up and is calling your attention to it. Now there are a variety of ways you can treat the blister too. You could take medication to dull the pain (but all medications come with side effects, which we’ll talk about later). You could put ice on the blister, rub ointment on it, put a band-aid over it, or just leave it alone. 

Depression is exactly like the blister on your foot. It’s painful and could develop from many different causes. The diagnosis of depression is just an easy way to describe a set of symptoms, the most common ones being increased sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, feelings of worthlessness, sleep problems, or changes in appetite. Just like in the blister scenario, the expression of these symptoms is your body asking for your attention. There are numerous ways to treat depression, but before you can treat it effectively, you need to know what’s driving it. If you don’t know what caused the depression in the first place, you’ll only being treating the symptoms rather than treating the syndrome (source of the problem) itself. 

I’ve known so many people who feel guilty or ashamed about having a diagnosis of depression, but I see it as a gift and a beautiful invitation from your body to start paying attention to the imbalances in your life. Life is busy and we all tend to put our own self care last on the priority list, but this can lead to nutritional, environmental, emotional, and spiritual imbalances in our lives. The human body is incredible though. It’s always scanning for potential threats to it’s well-being. Depression is your body sounding the alarms that your life is out of balance and needs re-calibrated. Rather than be angry, upset, or ashamed about having depression, we should all be thanking our bodies for alerting us that it’s time to do something more or better for ourselves. 

With depression comes the start of embarking on your own unique journey to redesigning your life in a way that creates balance and true health and wellness. One of the best ways to begin this journey is by working with a trusted therapist who can serve as a guide, providing you with tools and skills you can apply along the way. Unfortunately, many people choose to medicate depression instead. Kelly Brogan, M.D., author of Integrative Therapies for Depression, refers to medicating depression as “opting out of your own unique journey”. Rather than taking the time to reflect, gain insight and awareness, and make behavioral and lifestyle changes, some people opt for the “quick fix”, but opting out of exploring your own way to wellness comes with consequences. 

While medication may alleviate symptoms of depression, it doesn’t treat the cause of the problem. As such, if you stop taking the medication, the symptoms return. This is why vast numbers of people are inappropriately taking antidepressant medication long-term, rather than using medications on a short-term basis as intended. Research has proven that medications can subtly change our biochemistry. Medications don’t just treat one isolated part of the body either. Any medication you take effects and works on the whole body and mind, but not everything needs to be treated. This is where side effects come in. Once we start experiencing unpleasant side effects, we want those resolved too, which leads to more medications. Before you know it, your weekly pill box is full of medications to take daily and your life is still out of balance.

Kelly Brogan raises some excellent points related to the causes and treatments of depression: “Our health is being outpaced by our lifestyles: we are idle when our bodies want to move, we eat unrecognizable foods, and we expose ourselves to environmental factors that assault our cells (we’re stuck at our desks, behind our computers, staring at our phones). Depression is a gift because it reminds us of something we’ve forgotten; we are living in a way that we are not evolved to live (and our) body is screaming “get back to basics”. As sophisticated organisms, we are born with our bodies expecting to be exposed to certain conditions (sunlight, physical activity, plant based foods) in order for it to function optimally”. 

So, why do people often seek medication as the first line of treatment for depression? Our culture plays a huge role in this. We’ve all been raised to believe that if you don’t go to a doctor when you’re not feeling well that you’re being irresponsible with your health. So when people experience the painful symptoms of depression, the doctor is usually the first person they call. However, doctors only receive pharmaceutical tools and training in medical school and know very little about nutritional, environmental, and biopsychosocial factors that contribute to depression. So, the doctor gives medications because that’s the only tool in their tool bag to give. 

This isn’t to say doctors are bad or wrong, but it’s important to know that there are alternative (and arguably better) treatment options for depression. Doctors can and should be used as helpers along your journey to experiencing whole body health, but be sure to work with a doctor who understands depression as a syndrome and not a disease. Work with a doctor, therapist, naturopath, chiropractor, natural medicine practitioner, nutritionist, or other wellness provider who speaks the same language as you and understands the key to effectively treating depression. Effective treatment requires a healing partnership in which you can discuss and explore different ways of creating better life balance. 

If someone you love is experiencing depression, please share this post. This might make all the difference by helping them to shift the way they view depression and begin taking the first steps on their journey toward caring for themselves in new and better ways. If I can be of help to you on your journey toward optimal health and well-being, please reach out to me. 

Nicole Iacovoni is a psychotherapist, personal & financial development trainer, and author dedicated to helping you create a life of happiness & prosperity. Her work is centered around personal growth and holistic health and wealth building. Nicole takes an honest, straight-forward approach to helping clients identify where they currently are in their life’s journey. With expertise in how our DESIRES, EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BELIEFS influence our success, Nicole helps clients create a concrete action plan for living the life of their dreams.

We all know that person who is a fanatic about what they eat.  A little too fanatical.  Irritatingly fanatical.  I used to be that person.  I was restrictive, picky, and obsessed with  the control this brought to my life.  This behavior was devastating to my physical and mental health.  It brought isolation, depression, anxiety, and the inability to enjoy what life had to offer.  

Restriction is often correlated with veganism.  Ahh, veganism.  A diet sure to bring up some controversy, opinions, and criticism.  There are those who swear by it and those who say they could never eat that way and think it’s completely unsustainable.  Veganism, if you are unaware, is abstaining from consuming and/or using animal products or products that may jeopardize the welfare of an animal.  I am focusing primarily on the food aspect of veganism.  

Now, before I take a stand, there are a few known facts about eating vegan.  One is that we as humans can survive without meat, dairy, and fish.  Another is that there are certain nutrients you must be sure to supplement like vitamin B-12 which comes primarily from animal products.  Most people are worried about protein and I must say, let’s settle down with the protein obsession already!  Americans in general eat high protein diets from high amounts of animal products.  We are feverishly counting the grams we consume each day and grab every product that claims to have high protein.  Just beware, most processed vegan foods have soy protein isolate as their main source of protein and soy is not always healthy.  It’s often highly processed and some experts believe can act as an estrogen in the body because it’s chemical makeup is similar to the estrogen molecule.   As with everything in nutrition, your needs will be different than the next person so there is no magic number, but it is possible to get enough without animal products.  Whether this results in good health and longevity is another discussion altogether.  One fact I find incredibly interesting came from an article written by Dr. Mercola of mercola.com on veganism and claims that there are 90,000 centenarians in the U.S., but none of them are vegetarian or vegan.  All things to consider.

There are many variables that determine how someone will tolerate a diet.  One is bioindividuality, a.k.a. we are all different.  We all metabolize food differently because our biochemistry is not exactly the same.  Our activity and lifestyles also vary dramatically, but we can all be can be categorized into one of three body types:  Protein type, Carb type, or Mixed type, which is a combination of the two.  Some believe that blood type can also affect the diet that fits us best.  

I am a Carb type all the way.  I don’t do well on a low carb diet.  I get moody, fatigued, and just plain miserable.  During college and in my first job I ate really bad carbs.  Lots of sweets (low fat though!!), sugar-free drinks for energy, and granola bars.  I was what you would call a “junk food vegan.”   I had been a vegetarian for many years, but had dabbled with veganism here and there.  I didn’t cook very much at the time so I relied on processed soy products and bars.  I wasn’t getting enough of a lot of things.  Calories, nutrients, minerals, and healthy fats.  I also over exercised so my muscle mass and energy suffered.  Sounds like a recipe for success, right!?!  I was struggling through a lot in my life at that time so like I said before, my sense of control came from what I chose or didn’t choose to eat.  

Before you decide if a vegan diet is right for you, I would recommend that you consider what your motivation is to make this change.  Some people make the choice for animal rights or religious reasons and I can totally understand this.  Some people believe it is the healthiest for their body and I can also understand the want to experiment with eliminating animal products.  I felt great for the first several years after making the switch.  Being mindful and making a conscious change is important so that you can do your research and make sure you are getting enough of what you need.

Now, I will divulge my stance on veganism.  Now keep in mind that this is only my opinion from my own experience which is all anyone can ever say about whether or not a diet is healthy.  In my opinion there is no such thing as “the healthiest diet” and that’s the way it should be.  Food is an intimate and complex thing.  It feeds us in more ways than one and our behavior around food is a result of experience and biochemistry.  The diet I stick to today has a foundation in veganism, but I don’t restrict anything except red meat and I wouldn’t even call that restriction.  I have chosen not to eat red meat for about seventeen years because I don’t enjoy it and it doesn’t make my body feel good, period.  If I am craving an egg, I’ll have an egg.  It will be a free range organic local egg, but an egg nonetheless.  If I am craving meat I’ll have some turkey or chicken.  It usually amounts to a few times a month, but this is how my body works best.  I haven’t met many people that can sustain a strict vegan diet and those who sustain it longer tend to be a bit too obsessed (in my opinion) with eating this way.  There is a medical diagnosis for this by the way.  It’s called orthorexia.  An obsession with eating too healthy.  Really, you can be too healthy?  I was a bit suspicious too, but as with everything, too much or too little of a good thing is NOT a good thing!

Eliminating animal products doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  If you’re eating hoagies every day (sans meat and cheese), you’re just getting a bunch of processed empty calories from the white bread and little protein.  We all need adequate protein, just not copious amounts of it from processed foods.  Carbs should primarily come from vegetables and whole grains.  The closer the food is to it’s natural state the better.  Once I started eating this way my blood sugar levels evened out, my mood stabilized, and my energy improved.  You can’t completely eliminate sugar from your diet because vegetables are technically sugars, so shoot for eliminating processed sugars and decreasing natural sugars. 

I always encourage people who want to try veganism to give it a try.  I think it can be a good way to cleanse the body for short periods of time.  It’s also a great way to learn about yourself and what you need.  My only recommendations to consider when making this decision is to abandon any previously held beliefs or convictions you have about this way of eating and listen to your body.  We get in trouble when we only listen to our minds.  Your mind may want to be vegan, but your body may not.  Be honest with yourself and give your body what it wants.  Restriction can be dangerous and can adversely affect your health for the rest of your life.  I am still suffering the consequences of poor nutrition and illnesses that resulted from that.  So pay attention to your energy levels, hunger signals, cravings, and make sure you’re getting enough calories, healthy fats, and nutrients especially if you are more active.  Remember, our bodies always want to be restored to health and will do so if we give them a chance.  The only way to do this is to honor the signals they give us.

If you’ve tried going vegan, we’d love to hear about your experience, good or bad.  Please comment below!

Shawn Clavelle holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor.  Drawing from her clinical nursing experience and own personal journey, Shawn has a passion for identifying the obstacles to good health and guiding others in their own journey.  She has created a yoga and nutrition program which is accessible and sustainable for those wanting to make changes that last.  Shawn believes that what you put in your body and how you move it are crucial to living the most fulfilling life possible. 

A couple weeks ago, I came down with a cold; it was a nasty one too. This particular virus started out as a scratchy throat and then hit me hard, leaving me with no energy, swollen tonsils, a VERY sore throat, and one of those deep coughs that hocks up phlegm (nice thought, right?).

I make it a point to prioritize my health and rarely get sick, but this cold really did me in. I’m not one to slow down or let a little cold keep me from doing what I want, but I found myself needing to take time off to stay in bed. Stupid cold. 

I tend to avoid taking medications whenever possible, but the severity of my symptoms led me to desperation for a “quick fix”. I started popping Alka-Seltzer cold meds, which helped alleviate the symptoms slightly, but only for the four hours the medication was in effect. Then, it was back to coughing, hacking, miserableness. I turned to Advil, Tylenol Cold, and Sudafed. Again, it only provided temporary relief…and the cold itself wasn’t going away. I realized I was only treating the symptoms of my cold with these medications, but I wasn’t doing anything to help my body fight it and get rid of it for good. 

Then I started to wonder, “What ingredients are actually in those cold medicines anyway”? I did a little research. Polyethylene glycol? What the heck is that? I discovered it’s a medication that acts as a stool softener and laxative. I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to alleviate my cold symptoms, but it was right there in my Alka-Seltzer tablet. Povidone? I never heard of that before. Turns out it’s an iodine solution used for treating minor wounds and infections. What’s it doing in my cold medicine? 

I was shocked to learn that over the counter medications contain a lot more than just the active ingredients and I suddenly felt genuinely concerned about what I was putting in my body. Not only were those medications not really helping me, but what kind of potential harm were they doing? With all those foreign , unpronounceable ingredients, who knows how they’re all effecting my biology. I realized the “quick fix” I thought I was after wasn’t the best answer after all. What I really needed was to care for my body naturally and holistically to aid my immune system in doing the job it knows exactly how to do; without pharmacology interfering in the process. 

So, my new cold treatment methods included:

  1. MORE REST

Earlier bedtimes. Less housework. Canceling plans so I could lounge on the sofa. 

2. HERBAL TEA WITH HONEY

I drank four cups of herbal tea (lemon and ginger with probiotics, echinacea, or peppermint) a day which soothed my throat, boosted my immune system, and helped suppress my cough (honey is a natural cough suppressant). 

3. KOMBUCHA

Kombucha aids digestion and gut health. The better the gut health, the better the immunity against disease. Because it's naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. I LOVE Natalie’s Craft Kombucha, which comes in a variety of delicious flavors (and is made locally in Bloomsburg, PA). 

4. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

I used this in two ways: drinking one tablespoon twice daily and gargling. Because of the strong acid content, gargling apple cider vinegar kills the bacteria in the throat that causes pain. The potassium in apple cider vinegar is a great ingredient to thin mucus and the acid content in the vinegar helps reduce the bacteria trying to inhabit the nasal cavities.

5. NUTRIENT RICH FOODS

Have you ever heard the saying, “You need to feed your cold”? Well, that’s what I did with mine. I fed it nutrient rich foods, like organic kale, avocado, figs, walnuts, almonds, blueberries, spinach, sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and pastured eggs. I avoided processed foods that would bog down my body.

6. NETI POT

A Neti Pot is used for nasal saline irrigation, a therapy that uses a salt and water solution to flush out the nasal passages. It takes five minutes and provides almost instant relief from sinus congestion, helping to flush out the mucus rather than swallow it down the throat and into the gut. (Another lovely thought)

7. MEDITATION

I made it a point to take several minutes a day to focus on the present moment, pay attention to my breath, tune in to how my body was feeling, and set intentions for good health. I used mantras tied to complete health, feeling fully well, and having a strong body that is working perfectly to connect my mind and body with the task of healing itself. 

The results were surprising even to me, and I’m a huge believer and advocate for natural methods of healing. I suffered from cold symptoms for about 10 days while trying to treat it with over-the-counter medications. Once I switched away from meds and started my new, natural treatment methods, I experienced drastic improvement in my symptoms in two days.

Now, one might argue that the virus was nearing the end of it’s cycle and it’s just coincidental that I started feeling better after starting my holistic approach. That may be true, but my husband had the same cold and after three weeks of treating with medications, he still has symptoms. Again, he and I have different immune systems and our bodies are likely to fight illness differently, but my experience really makes me wonder how much longer I would have had cold symptoms had I not started treating my body naturally and holistically. 

Fighting this cold taught me a couple of valuable lessons. First, our health is the MOST IMPORTANT thing in the world. If you don’t have good health, you don’t have anything. The way this simple little virus effected my mood, my ability to function, my motivation, and the every minute experience of my day reminded me of how valuable good health truly is. Our health is worth all the time and money it requires to take good care of it. Secondly, I learned that I will always try natural, holistic approaches to health before medications, because I feel strongly they are more effective AND they don’t bring with them all the additives, side effects, or extra “ingredients” that my body simply doesn’t need. 

Now, I challenge you. The next time you feel a cold coming on, or any other threat to your good health, do the research and find natural ways to treat your body and mind with care so that it can work it’s magic and heal itself. Avoid the “quick fix” medications and treat the source of the problem, rather than just the symptoms. 

Nicole Iacovoni is a psychotherapist, author, wealth building coach, and personal empowerment fanatic dedicated to helping you create a life of happiness & prosperity. Her work is centered around personal growth and holistic health and wealth building. Nicole takes an honest, straight-forward approach to helping clients identify where they currently are in their life’s journey. With expertise in how our DESIRES, EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BELIEFS influence our success, Nicole helps clients create a concrete action plan for living the life of their dreams.

Proper nutrition can literally mean the difference between life and death.  What does it mean to eat healthy?  I’ll give you a hint...it’s not a million dollar question!  Eating healthy nowadays has become incredibly complicated, but under all this complication lies the truth:  you don’t need a food science degree to make better choices.  You just need a few easy to follow rules and the awareness of how food marketers trick us into thinking foods are healthy when they’re not. 

It’s a bad habit of mine to become distracted by what’s in other people’s grocery carts.  I’m not looking with judgement, but rather sadness and even anger at the food industries that are misguiding people on purpose for profit, not good health.  That being said, no one eats perfectly, nutrition experts included, and imperfection is part of a healthy balance when it comes to food.  It only becomes a problem when you are making exceptions to these rules more often than not.  So, here are five easy ways to get started without becoming overwhelmed.  Start slowly and see what you can learn about your current habits when it comes to choosing food.

Rule #1:  EAT REAL FOOD:  This may seem blatantly obvious, but easier said than done.  This could be the simplest, but most crucial rule of all.  When you go into any mainstream grocery store today, what you will find are mostly “food products” which are highly processed mixtures of ingredients with added chemicals, stabilizers, preservatives, sugar, and salt.  If you buy an item that doesn’t go bad in a few days to a week, chances are it contains the above ingredients to preserve it’s shelf life.  Good for the food company’s pockets? Yes.  Good for our bodies? No.  The bottom line:  Eat whole foods.  A whole food has one ingredient and is not processed so it’s as close to it’s natural state as possible when you ingest it.  

Rule #2:  COUNT CHEMICALS, NOT CALORIES:  We are a culture obsessed with numbers and statistics.  We like to quantify things and our diet is no different.  The problem with counting calories is that not all calories are created equal.  One-hundred calories of broccoli works much differently in your body than one-hundred calories of potato chips.  Those 100-calorie packs that you think are good for you?  Get rid of them.  They are processed sugar with added artificial ingredients and little to no nutritional value.  There’s no cheating when it comes to what you put in your body.  You will either benefit or be harmed by what crosses your lips.  This rule, like the others, is very simple to follow.  Look at the ingredients, not the nutrition facts (which are typically based on a 2,000 calorie diet).  If there are items a third grader couldn’t pronounce, chances are they are chemicals or manufactured ingredients.  Stick to ingredients you (and your third grader) can pronounce and identify as real foods.

Rule #3:  CHECK THE SUGAR CONTENT:  There’s no daily recommended value (DRV) for sugar so we tend to focus more on grams of protein, fat, and overall carbohydrate intake because we have targets for these.  Sugar is listed on the nutrition facts under carbohydrates in grams.  The key here is to scroll down to the ingredient list and see what kind of sugar it is.  There are countless names that sugar can hide behind like fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and maltose, so be aware that it can come in many different forms.  You can’t eliminate sugar completely because there are naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables, but the fiber in these natural foods allows our bodies to process them much slower.  We need carbohydrates to live, just be sure to pick the right ones.  If sugar is the first ingredient, definitely skip it, because ingredients are listed from highest quantity to lowest.  Start by familiarizing yourself with how much sugar is added to common foods you buy.  I bet you will be surprised to find that sugar is added to almost all processed foods.  Don’t be fooled by “organic” or “gluten-free” either.  These terms don’t always mean healthier.  Go straight to the ingredients and see for yourself what’s actually in them.  

Rule #4:  AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS THAT MAKE HEALTH CLAIMS:  There are a few exceptions to this rule because nowadays you may see a bag of avocados that has a nutrition label on it with claims to be a healthy source of fat or a good source of fiber.  What you’ll want to look out for are food products with more than one ingredient, often in a package of some sort that say things like, “heart healthy, natural, low-fat, fat-free, light, and cholesterol free,” to name a few.  These are mostly myths with no meaning at all or the food has been altered from it’s natural state to produce a product with a different nutritional profile.  Every time a whole food is processed or altered with chemicals or heat, it loses vital nutrients and doesn’t work as effectively in our bodies when we break it down.  

Rule #5:  SKIP THE TRENDY “HEALTH FOODS”:  Not all organic items or so called “health foods” are healthy.  Sure coconuts have health benefits and so does coconut oil in small amounts, but coconut chips dipped in dark chocolate aren’t the best choice, especially if you eat the whole bag.  Same deal with potato chips and popcorn.  You’ll find rows and rows of different kinds of these foods in various flavors made with various ingredients.  Sweet potatoes, blue corn, whole grains...all good as whole foods, but when you fry or even bake them in oil and add additional ingredients you are getting a different food altogether.  Even if your favorite chip is made with avocado or coconut oil it can seem like a good choice, but it’s still a bag of chips and if you eat the whole bag, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  To determine whether these “health foods” are healthy, go through the first four rules and you will have your answer.  

To recap:  Choose real food as close to it’s natural state as possible.  A fresh mango is better than dried mango especially if it has added sugar or been processed.  A baked sweet potato is better than sweet potato chips (even if they boast being made with a superfood oil).  Check your ingredients.  The fewer the better.  Check the sugar content and note what type of sugar is in it.  Be aware of the calories, but think quality over quantity.  

For those of you feeling a bit of anxiety about making changes, relish in the fact that it’s okay to treat yourself.  The key is MODERATION.  Follow the 90:10 rule where you eat well 90% of the time and leave the last 10% for indulgences or “exceptions.”  Just be sure that your indulgences don’t creep up on you.  It’s easy to do.  Remember, perfection is not necessary, and in most cases, detrimental to a healthy balanced diet, but be honest with yourself and if you fall off track don’t give up!  Just pick yourself up and learn from where you went wrong.  It’s a learning process so you will have your ups and downs.  Go easy on yourself and have fun with it.  After all, eating should be pleasurable and healthy can absolutely be pleasurable!

Shawn Clavelle holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor.  Drawing from her clinical nursing experience and own personal journey, Shawn has a passion for identifying the obstacles to good health and guiding others in their own journey.  She has created a yoga and nutrition program which is accessible and sustainable for those wanting to make changes that last.  Shawn believes that what you put in your body and how you move it are crucial to living the most fulfilling life possible. 

Have you ever wanted one thing and gotten something TOTALLY different? I can think of countless examples when I’ve experienced NOT getting what I wanted. I used to respond to not getting my way in a childish, tantrum-like way (yes, this is hard for me to admit). Now, I actually WELCOME unplanned circumstances. Let me tell you why you should too. 

After undergrad, I had my heart set on going to law school. I had big dreams of becoming a criminal profiler for the FBI and I was certain law school would make these dreams become a reality. I all but had my bags packed to move to Virginia and start school when the rejection letter arrived. Wait a minute…this isn’t part of the plan. I WANT to go to UVA. I WANT to get my law degree. I didn’t get what I wanted. I felt like everything was ruined. I bawled my eyes out for two weeks. 

I couldn’t change my circumstances, so I had no other choice but to change my plan. I felt confident that I could get accepted to a social work program, so I applied to one of the only schools in the country that offered both social work and law degrees as a dual program. I rationalized that if I performed well in the social work program, they’d have no choice but to accept me to the law program too. The next thing I knew, I was moving to Denver, Colorado to start a Master of Social Work program. 

A funny thing happened; I fell in love with social work and out of love with my dreams of going to law school. I fell in love with Denver; a city I never would have considered moving to had I been accepted to law school where I WANTED to go. I fell in love with myself as a result of experiencing better ways of living and having time and space to discover my own beliefs and values. I didn’t get what I wanted when I got rejected from law school. I got what I NEEDED. 

I WANTED to get married in November 2008 and have a beautiful autumn wedding. It was all planned and I anxiously awaited the big day when I would become a Mrs. Then my fiance’ broke up with me and called off the wedding three months before we were scheduled to say “I do”. I didn’t get what I WANTED. I felt like everything was ruined. I bawled my eyes out for two weeks. 

I didn’t know that’s what I needed. I thought I needed to be with him, but in truth, I needed a partner who was my equal, who would balance me out, who would love me unconditionally. I didn’t realize what was best for me until I met my husband a year later and got to experience a love like I’d never felt before. Thank God I didn’t get what I WANTED!! Had my wants come to pass, I would have found myself in a lonely, unhappy marriage. 

I WANTED a daughter who is sweet, obedient, snuggly, and calm. I have a daughter who is spirited, energetic, strong-willed, and challenges my patience every single day of my life. I didn’t get the child I WANTED, but I did get the child I NEED, because she stretches me, helps me to see the parts of myself that I want to make better, and gives me the necessary practice is takes to become a better version of myself. Without her daily challenges, I’d have no motivation to work on patience, practice compromise, or allow myself to be sillier and less serious. 

So, you see, NOT getting what you WANT is a good thing, because it means you’re getting what you NEED instead. When we don’t get what we want, our natural inclination is to resist, put up a fight, force things to happen the way we want. Instead, take a moment to recognize and embrace the gift the universe is presenting to you. Snatch it up like a precious gem and look at it’s brilliance from all angles. You’ll eventually see that all the right things are happening to you and for you…even if it’s not quite what you had in mind. 

The next time you don’t get the job offer you want, remember that we don’t get what we WANT; we get what we NEED. A better job is right around the corner. When you do a self inventory and determine you don’t have the house you want, the free time you want, the husband you want, or the child you want, feel a deep sense of gratitude for having only that which you truly NEED. Search out the evidence that proves you NEED all that you have as it currently is and you’re whole life will change. Make this an ongoing practice and you’ll find yourself welcoming unexpected circumstances and plans going awry. You’ll start looking forward to discovering what you NEED and gaining new awareness about what genuinely benefits you. On top of it all, you’ll feel so grateful that life is unfolding as it’s meant to be. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Try it out and see for yourself. Or take it from the Rolling Stones as they sing, “You Can’t Always Get What you Want”. (You know you want to listen to it now, don’t you?)

Nicole Iacovoni is a psychotherapist, author, wealth building coach, and personal empowerment fanatic dedicated to helping you create a life of happiness & prosperity. Her work is centered around personal growth and holistic health and wealth building. Nicole takes an honest, straight-forward approach to helping clients identify where they currently are in their life’s journey. With expertise in how our DESIRES, EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BELIEFS influence our success, Nicole helps clients create a concrete action plan for living the life of their dreams.

Hippocrates knew what he was talking about even thousands of years ago.  A Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, Hippocrates is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine, yet the way we practice medicine today is a far cry from his approach.  Hippocrates conducted his own research through experiments and data collection to conclude that disease is a natural process.  A process caused by natural reactions of the body and that the role of the physician was to support the natural resistance of the body to overcome the imbalance.  Once the imbalance was restored, the person would return to good health and harmony.  He believed (against the teachings of the school of medicine) that the body functioned as one organism and must be treated as such.  The school of medicine’s approach was to isolate each organ and treat them separately.  This is very similar to how we treat disease today in conventional medicine.  There is a specialist for each body system or organ and we are referred to one of these specialists by our primary physician if a problem arises that they do not have the expertise to treat.  The problem with this model is that we are going against nature and how our body was designed.

To be clear, I am not putting the blame on doctors, nor do I think there’s not a place for conventional medicine.  I’d like to share a little about overcoming my own health struggles and what worked for me.  Everyone’s healing looks different so you don’t need to follow the exact path I took, but I think there are a few tips that can help anyone in their journey towards better health.  I worked in health care for many years and loved certain aspects of it,  but shortly after I started my career I began having some health struggles of my own.  Fatigue, depression, anxiety, infections, pain, indigestion, inability to concentrate, and more.  Instead of listening to my body and taking guidance from it, I fought it tooth and nail, because this is how I roll.  After all, I didn’t have time for all this!  For the next several years I was in a constant fight with my body.  After lots of tests, therapy, medication, and a good dose of denial, I managed to find a way to keep up my performance at work without really taking good care of myself...sort of.  What took me several more years to learn is that you can’t defy nature.  If you ignore what your body is trying to tell you, it will bite you in the butt down the road, usually much harder than it tried to in the first place.  

So...as I began to feel as if I had control over my body with all the tools listed above, I was blindsided by a cascade of worsening health issues.  And they kept coming for what seemed like FOREVER, especially after the birth of our first daughter in 2010.  They knew me well at the dentist because I had eight root canals in a very short time, all of which would later be extracted, became dependent on medication, had worsening depression, and was struggling to keep my family together.  Even as I write about this difficult time I get a tightness in the back of my throat, a clenching in my stomach, and that feeling of desperation I once felt.  I know now that this was imbalance manifesting in my body trying to tell me it needed something other than what I was doing.  

Thankfully, it wasn’t yesterday.  It wasn’t even a year ago.  It was almost eleven years ago.  I was in a constant fight with my body, and the universe for that matter, for a good majority of this time.  What I discovered the hard way is that when you are in fight mode you are not open to the things you need to make real lasting change.  So long as you have your fists up ready to strike the next person who crosses your path, you will never come to a place of healing.  Our psychological and physical health are directly related and whether its physical, emotional, spiritual, or all three, you must heal yourself from a perspective of wholeness.  Yes, seeing a doctor, therapist, or other health care professional may be part of your recipe for healing, but you my friend, have everything you need right inside you to heal yourself.  You just need to listen very carefully.  

By sharing my own experience and struggles my hope is that perhaps you won’t feel so alone, or inadequate, or desperate.  I was really hoping to leave politics out of this, but Obama made a statement in one of his recent speeches that keeps popping up in my mind.  He talked about how it’s hard to lose when you’ve worked so hard for what you believe in, but despite our differences, we must remember we’re really all on the same side.  Whether you’re fighting yourself or someone else, it’s an incredible relief to know that unity is ultimately what will heal us.  This is how we were designed by nature, as a whole person needing wholeness for healing.  It’s all connected and we can’t heal one part without examining the others.  

There are so many factors involved in the healing process it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but I believe in starting simple.  What got me off on the right foot was getting all the toxins out of my life.  I’m talking about toxins in the body but also environmental toxins, psychological toxins, and emotional toxins.  We live in a toxic environment and that isn’t going to change anytime soon so everyone can benefit from doing an occasional detox program.  Doing this will allow you to think clearer, feel better, and set the stage for true and lasting healing and what better time to start than the spring when life and warmth are about to return!  Here are a few tips to get you started in each category, but make it your own.  Customize it for your own specific goals.  You can find countless detox juice and smoothie recipes on the internet that are specific for healing certain disorders or targeting a specific area of the body that may need attention.  

BODY DETOX:  There’s no better way to cleanse yourself than to start with good nutrition.  If you are up to diving right in and want to try a juice or smoothie fast, Cherie Calbom’s book “Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing For Life,” has some great tips and recipes for getting started.  A juice fast isn’t for everyone though so if you are one of these people, start by choosing organic as much as possible and decreasing the higher allergenic foods such as meat, wheat, and dairy.  Know what you are consuming.  The best way to do this is to prepare your own meals at home.  You don’t need much time to throw together quick healthy meals, you just need to commit to doing so and prioritize it.   Below I have included a tasty green smoothie recipe for you to try that is easy to make and delicious!  It removes heavy metal toxins that build up in the body and is loaded with micronutrients necessary for optimal body function.

ENVIRONMENTAL DETOX:  Most of us don’t think about it, but toxins enter our bodies in more than one way.  Our skin and lungs take in a good majority of toxins as well so be mindful about what you put on your skin and the quality of the air you breathe.  Things like laundry detergent, dryer sheets, soap, shampoo, lotion, make-up, and cleaning products all affect our “toxic load.”  Choose “free and clear” varieties and natural health products as much as possible.  Natural cleaning products are also effective and they smell great too!  Especially now since we are spending more time inside it’s important to use natural cleaners because any artificial fragrances and chemical additives end up in the air we breathe.  Visit your local health food store for an array of different brands or go online to order if you know what you want.

PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL DETOX:  The psychological and emotional detox may take a little longer to see results.  This were the most challenging for me.  I like to compare it to strength and flexibility.  Strength is easier and quicker to achieve if you have a good action plan, but flexibility needs more time, nurturing, and patience (something I have very little of).  Unfortunately, you can’t rush this part and it’s extremely important.  This type of detox can come in many different forms and is personal to you.  It may be prayer, meditation, exercise, religion, journaling, therapy, or simply engaging in a favorite hobby to express yourself.  Make time each day for self care that supports your mental health and your body will thank you for it.  Stress does a number on the physical body and may lead to weight gain, digestive disorders, metabolic imbalances, unbalanced hormones and more.  

I hope by sharing some of my own struggles and tips for success it has helped you to feel less alone and perhaps inspired to start your own journey.  Remember to BELIEVE in yourself even if others don’t.  Tell yourself you will and can have what you desire.  Keep telling yourself this especially when you feel as if you’re moving backwards.  Another thing about nature is that it’s always in motion.  Sometimes moving forward, sometimes moving backward, but there’s always a good reason for the direction it’s going.  I’d love to hear your story or simply the first thing you are going to do to get started.  Please feel free to comment here on our blog and get support from other likeminded people.  Most of all, enjoy the process and be kind to yourself!  

HEAVY METAL DETOX SMOOTHIE:

Cilantro and parsley are great for removing heavy metals from the body and taste great in this delicious detoxifying smoothie!

1/2-1 cup fresh cilantro 

1 cup fresh parsley

1/2 cup cucumber (without skin if non-organic)

1/2 cup chopped fresh kale

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 fresh mango

1/2 cup filtered water or raw apple juice

Wash and roughly cut up herbs, veggies, and mango.  Add to blender with lemon juice and blend until smooth.  Replace as a meal or drink as a post workout recovery drink.  Enjoy! 

Shawn Clavelle holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor.  Drawing from her clinical nursing experience and own personal journey, Shawn has a passion for identifying the obstacles to good health and guiding others in their own journey.  She has created a yoga and nutrition program which is accessible and sustainable for those wanting to make changes that last.  Shawn believes that what you put in your body and how you move it are crucial to living the most fulfilling life possible. 

“Get busy. Be more productive. Accomplish more. Work hard. You gotta do this to succeed”. Do you hear these messages ringing in your ears? Me too. Most of the time it works to my advantage; it motives me. I like getting things done and feeling like I’m doing good things with my time. But lately, I just want to tell that voice to shut the hell up. 

The holidays bring about a different kind of chaos. Our to-do lists grow longer as we squeeze in extra deadlines to meet and places to be. Parties, shopping, wrapping, writing out Christmas Cards, seeing Santa at the mall, making travel plans, decorating the tree, the cookie exchange…we find ourselves with endless ways to spend our precious, little time. All the while, there’s an unspoken nagging to ALSO plan and prepare for the new year. “Set intentions. Make new goals. Create your resolutions”. The pressure builds.

Shawn and I both felt this weight press down on us. For weeks, we’ve been intending to brainstorm next year’s plans for the wellness center. We just couldn’t find any room in our schedules to get working on it. And neither one of us was all that excited about it either. It felt overwhelming and exhausting to be simultaneously wrapping up 2016, trying to enjoy the holiday season, and prepping for the new year. 

One day at the office, we both stopped, looked at each other, and let out long sighs. In that moment, I turned to her and said, “Let’s not do it right now. Let’s pace ourselves. Take our time”. Right then, we agreed we weren’t going to force ourselves to devote attention to 2017 until we reflected on the past year and felt in a good place, free from pressure and overwhelm, to envision what is yet to come. There was almost instant relief. 

Now, 2017 is upon us…and we still haven’t started planning for the year. And we’re totally ok with that. It will come. It will all get done. It will be good…but only when we’re ready to take it on. You can’t force or push good ideas to the surface. You can’t squeeze motivation from your veins. When we feel pulled and pressured it’s time to stop and breathe. The moments when we feel we have to keep going are the very moments to pause. 

Can you feel it? Is there a voice inside of you pressuring you to hurry up and get to the gym? Hurry up and take down the decorations? Hurry up and submit that proposal, draw up those plans, make the decision, book the reservations? “You should be losing weight, eating better, sleeping more, spending more time with friends, spending less time on Facebook. You should ____________ (fill in the blank with all the things you wish you were better at and will probably set as New Year’s Resolutions).”

Before you get all caught up in this rhetoric and launch into 2017, slow down and take a minute. Here’s why and how you should PACE YOURSELF:

  1. LIFE ISN’T A RACE TO THE FINISH LINE. 

It’s a journey to be experienced and savored. There is no “there”. You’ll never arrive at a destination. The meaning of life is to give life meaning. Every moment, every minute, every breath contains a precious gift, but if you’re flying through it, you’ll miss the beauty of it all. With each step you take, immerse yourself in that moment rather than thinking ahead to what is yet to come. Slow, gradual, consistent growth is ALWAYS better than sharp, rapid (and often fleeting) changes. You’re in this life for the long haul. Build your life on a strong foundation, brick by brick, block by block, one step at a time. Pay attention to every detail and love what you’re creating as you’re making it. 

2. REFLECTION ON THE PAST CAN MAKE FOR A STUNNING FUTURE.

Our experiences are designed to teach us valuable lessons; to guide and direct us toward the path we’re meant to travel. The road we’ve already walked down serves as a compass. If we’re so caught up in looking forward, we’ll never learn from what’s behind us. Before setting intentions for 2017 and setting a new course, reflect on 2016 and see how far you’ve come. 

Ask yourself: “What am I proud of from 2016? What goals did I achieve?  What mistakes did I make? What lessons did I learn?” Gleaning insight into yourself, where you’ve been, and where you want to go next is sure to awaken your soul voice. The best way to gain clarity and bring forth vision for a prosperous future is to remember who you are and what you’re truly capable of. Our past crusades show us how strong we are. 

3. LETTING GO NEEDS TO HAPPEN BEFORE ADDING MORE.

This applies to SO. MANY. THINGS. What old, un-useful stories do you need to let go of? I’ll tell you, 2016 did a great job of helping me to let go of my fear of failure. What I once viewed as failure, I now simply view as learning and adjusting.

Letting go of my old definition of failure has helped me learn not to judge myself by other people’s expectations and to focus more on my own opinion of what I’m doing and why. This simple shift makes me feel curious, excited, and eager to see what 2017 has to offer, rather than feeling anxious, fearful, and intimidated. 

Let go of the unhappy relationship. Let go of drama. Let go of the closet full of clothes you don’t wear anymore. Let go of the number on the scale. Let go of all the “shoulds” you apply to yourself and others (“I should be further along at this point in my life”). Throw em’ all out. Gone. 

There’s no room for wonderful if it’s all filled up with mediocre (at best). 

4. TAKE THE REINS FROM YOUR EGO AND HAND EM’ OVER TO YOUR SOUL.

Your ego is going to attempt to convince you the most important thing is that promotion, impressing people, the perfectly picked up home, the ripped abs, the BMW in the driveway, the honor roll kids. Your ego is going to tell you to press on, keep going, push harder, overextend, overspend. Your soul knows better.

Your soul knows you’re fueled by love, kindness, and generosity. Your soul knows seeing the sunrise, smelling the fresh pressed coffee brew, and hearing laughter in the next room is what makes you come alive. Your soul holds the key to your biggest dreams and desires. It knows what makes your heart beat, what lights you up, what ignites the fire that sets everything in motion. 

Before setting your intentions for 2017, make sure your intentions are good. Make sure your listening to your soul voice and not your ego message. Allowing your ego to guide your future will leave you feeling empty. Tune in closely to your heart’s desires and let that voice guide you through the new year. 

The start of a new year seems like a natural time to take off on new goals and aspirations, and in all honesty, it is. But if you aren’t feeling inspired or driven to create an action plan yet, don’t worry. Pace yourself. It will come. It will all get done. It will be beautiful and challenging and messy and surprising because that’s how life is. So, to prepare yourself (your soul) for the journey ahead and to set a new life course, slow it all down, take it all in, steep in this very moment and then set a slow and steady pace as you take your first steps into 2017. 

Happy New Year!

Nicole Iacovoni is a psychotherapist, author, wealth building coach, and personal empowerment fanatic dedicated to helping you create a life of happiness & prosperity. Her work is centered around personal growth and holistic health and wealth building. Nicole takes an honest, straight-forward approach to helping clients identify where they currently are in their life’s journey. With expertise in how our DESIRES, EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, and BELIEFS influence our success, Nicole helps clients create a concrete action plan for living the life of their dreams. Contact Nicole for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION. 

We say we value our health and I truly believe people WANT to value their health.  What I have learned about human behavior is that bad habits are hard to break.  Why we do what we do is extremely complex and we are creatures of habit, so we eventually see these habits as life-sustaining, because they are.  They are sustaining the life we have created whether it’s healthy or not.

One of the most common concerns I hear when someone is thinking about making a dietary or lifestyle change is, “I can’t afford it.”  Okay, fair enough, but consider this: why do we drop five bucks on a Starbucks coffee like it’s nothing, but scoff at the thought of paying five dollars for a dozen organic pasture raised eggs?  The truth is, you can’t NOT afford it.  The food we eat is directly related to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  If we don’t feed ourselves well we will be paying far more in medical costs down the road than it costs to splurge for the organic variety.  Most people are surprised to find they save money by preparing their own high quality food.  It comes down solely to what we value, or what we are told to value and don’t question.  WE FIND THE MONEY FOR THE THINGS WE FEEL WE NEED THE MOST and for many people those things include cars, heath care (not prevention), entertainment, technology, clothing, and expensive coffee drinks.  Organic pasture raised eggs rarely make the list. We also don’t see highly influential commercials with celebrities pushing these values.  We see commercials for Coke, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts.   

When something catches on or is constantly being pumped into our brains, most of us stop questioning it and go with the flow, even if we know it’s not good for us.  We surrender to our environment.  If everyone’s doing it, it must be good, right?  No!! If I value the ethical treatment of animals and want to eat eggs only if they are raised without chemicals and cruelty, I will find a way to come up with the extra dollar it takes to buy them.  I encourage you to question the decisions you make, even the little ones.  Think about what the value is behind those decisions.  Then you can make a choice whether you want to continue with that action.  I’ve got to hand it to Starbucks, though.  They’ve managed to find a way through their hook-line-and-sinker marketing and advertising to make people believe their product has that much value.  

What we surround ourselves with is what and who we will become.  If improving your health tops your resolution list this year, I’ve got a few inside tips on how to dodge the usual resolution-busting obstacles that typically come up.  

#1:  DIG DEEP INTO WHAT YOUR VALUES REALLY ARE: How much do you want to lose weight, eat healthier, or get into shape?  I think it’s safe to say we all want these things, but how badly do you really want them?  Be completely honest with yourself.  There is no wrong answer.  What do you want more, a healthy body or your morning coffee drink with 60 grams of sugar and loads of caffeine with a donut on the side?  If you haven’t been able to kick this habit, the answer is you want the coffee and donut more, and that’s okay.  It’s doing something for you.  Maybe it’s stress relief from the sugar (because sugar acts just like any other addictive drug), an energy boost because you’re not getting the proper nutrients, or comfort because you aren’t getting it elsewhere.  There are very good reasons we are drawn to junk food and it does provide us with what we are seeking…temporarily.  However, I don’t think anyone likes the sugar low that occurs after the spike in blood sugar, or the constant hunger from lacking nutrients, or the tooth decay it will eventually cause, or the mood swings that result from unstable blood sugar levels, or diabetes which you will eventually get, or heart disease which is the number one killer in America, or the chronic fatigue from adrenal insufficiency, or thyroid dysfunction, or cancer, all of which are direct consequences from eating junk.  Okay, back to your values.  This part is really important.  Make a list and number them from highest to lowest priority.  It may surprise you what is really at the top.  

#2:  HANG AROUND THE HEALTHIEST PERSON YOU CAN STAND: We all have that friend or family member who undoubtedly gets singled out for being irritatingly health conscious.  This person is the one who brings food to gatherings that others look at in judgement and disgust (even though they haven’t tried it) and this is the person who still wants to do their workout on holidays.  Try to put your irritation aside and become curious about what this person is doing that works.  Anyone can make healthy changes, it’s just how we go about it that will determine success or failure.  The difference between this person and the person who is not successful is that this person has made decisions and changes to their lifestyle that prioritize their well-being.  This person is getting more out of good health than what the bad habits can do for them.  If you are chronically stressed and can’t function without your coffee and donuts, you can’t just replace your food.  You must first get to the source of the imbalance which is usually work, relationships, money, poor time management, kids, or any other source of stress.  Maybe you will have to make a job or career change or end a toxic relationship.  As humans, we can only take so much, so willpower will never work if you don’t get rid of the trigger.  So find this irritating health nut and see if you can learn a thing or two about what they have done to find balance and ask them about what their challenges were and still are.  They may end up becoming your best friend!

#3:  SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE: We are American.  We like to do things at a fast pace and we want results yesterday.  Perhaps the most difficult challenge for most people is to allow healing to unfold at nature’s pace, not theirs.  Anytime you change your body it is a process of healing and you can’t rush it.  If you do, it will not last and you will be right back where you started.  Most of us have forgotten how to listen to our bodies.  We are all born with this capacity and if you’ve ever been around babies, they don’t have any second thoughts about giving in to what their body wants.  If you constantly crave sugar, caffeine, high fat foods, drugs, or alcohol, your body is trying to tell you it needs something.  This something is not any of the above.  Those things will just allow you to keep living an unhealthy life without addressing the source of imbalance.  Addressing your imbalances may require more resources than you anticipated, but it is so worth the investment.  You are making changes that will last the rest of your life and that is invaluable.  

Investment is not just about money and not just about what you are going to get right now.  It’s hard to see the value in something that may or may not come down the road, however, the simplest things we can do to take care of ourselves are put good food in our body and move them on a regular basis.  There aren’t any adverse affects to doing either one of these.  Our food becomes our cells and our bodies rebuild themselves about every three years, so yes, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.  You are also what the food you eat has eaten so if you eat animal products, choose organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, GMO-free, and cruelty-free whenever possible.  Your grocery bill will go up a bit, but your doctor bill will go down and you will most likely avoid costly health care in the future.  It’s all about tradeoffs and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pay a bit more to prevent an illness than dump all my savings into trying to treat it.  

If you would like to talk more about improving your diet or lifestyle, we offer FREE consultations for Nutrition Coaching and Counseling.  We’d love to get you started on your journey to whole body health.  Remember:

“Problems are not stop signs.  They are guidelines.”  -Robert Schuller

Shawn Clavelle holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor.  Drawing from her clinical nursing experience and own personal journey, Shawn has a passion for identifying the obstacles to good health and guiding others in their own journey.  She has created a yoga and nutrition program which is accessible and sustainable for those wanting to make changes that last.  Shawn believes that what you put in your body and how you move it are crucial to living the most fulfilling life possible. 

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