Better Than New Year’s Resolutions: Find Your Word of the Year

Word of the Year

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I now come up with a Word of the Year.

This is a simple way of focusing on something you want more of this year, based on the idea that what you focus on, grows.

More than New Year’s Resolutions, your Word of the Year can help inspire and guide you throughout the year.

In 2013, my word of the year was PASSION. I used PASSION to guide the way I lived my life and the choices I made in both my work (starting this blog, leaving an 8 year career in advertising to share my passion for healthy living as a Health Coach) and my private life (from going to Australia  with my husband to everyday activities like cooking, yoga or reading that I am passionate about).

For 2014, I decided my word would be LIGHTNESS.

I want to bring more lightness into my life, in the form of fun, taking things less seriously and enjoying life more.

I want to laugh more.

I want to lighten up my thinking and worry less.

I want to keep eating nourishing foods and moving in a way that allows me to feel physically light in my body.

I want to remember Eckhart Tolle’s quote that “Life isn’t as serious as the ego makes it out to be”.

I want to live lightly in every sense of the word.

So how do you go about finding your word of the year?

1. Connect to your desires. 

Take some time to yourself, and really think about what you WANT out of life in this moment.

You might want to try listing everything you can think of even if it seems frivolous. This can include anything from the new iPad to getting married to going to Thailand on holiday.

2. Identify the feelings behind what you want

Once you have your desire list, identify how getting what you have listed will make you feel. What is the feeling you are chasing? As Danielle LaPorte writes “You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling.”

For example, maybe you want an iPad because it will allow you to feel connected. Or going to Thailand will help you feel adventurous. And perhaps you want to get married because what you are really looking for is stability.

3. Choose the word that attracts you most

Now go back to your list and look at the feelings you have written. What comes across most clearly or really makes your heart sing? What word makes you feel expansive, inspired, turned on?

Play with the idea that this might be your word of the year for a few days before deciding on this. You can try writing several words out on post-its around your home to see which you feel most drawn to.

Once you have your word of the year, you can really own it by creating a collage of images that remind you of this, creating an affirmation around it (I desire to live lightly) or simply having it written out somewhere you can see it. You can even use it for email or social media passwords as a daily reminder (for example: livinglightly2014).

I would love to hear from you – what’s your Word of the Year?

   Better than New Year’s Resolutions – find your Word of the Year! Click to Tweet!

If you want to start the year off with the support you need to lose weight or simply make healthier life choices, why not book a free Health Chat to find out whether Health Coaching is right for you?

6 Books That Changed My Thinking in 2013

Top reads 2013I have always loved reading – a little like Roald Dahl’s character Mathilda pictured here!

Of all the books I read this year, six in particular stand out in having really changed the way I think. Here are my top reads for 2013.

I usually buy my books from Book Depository, a website I love because they do worldwide free delivery and have the lowest prices I have found anywhere (including amazon). I am such a fan that I am now an affiliate – so if you decide to buy any of these books or other books from this website, please do so by clicking on this link or directly on the book titles below so I can earn points to buy even more books (it won’t cost you anything more)!

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

The main idea of this book is that we all have an ‘Upper Limit’ – a set point or thermostat of happiness defined by what we were told growing up and the beliefs we’ve interiorized. When we surpass this limit, we start to sabotage ourselves because we are uncomfortable with so much happiness. This keeps us from making the ‘big leap’ into what Hendricks calls our Zone of Genius – a place where we are able to express our full potential.

I think we can all identify with self-sabotage to a certain extent. This can look like healthy eating and living for a few days and feeling really great…then pigging out on unhealthy foods for no apparent reason. Or it can be finally getting into an exercise routine you feel good about…then having an accident that prevents you from exercising for several weeks.

I read this book while travelling in Australia in October and it made me realize that the worries I often have while traveling is a form of Upper Limit thinking. Simply realizing this changed my travel experience.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

Simply becoming aware of upper limiting behavior like worrying and self-sabotage behavior and focusing on cultivating a feeling of deservedness instead.

Find Out More: 

Watch this 5 minute interview with the author:


The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self by Charles Eisenstein

Having studied over 100 dietary theories as diverse as the Paleo Diet, veganism and Macrobiotics during my nutrition training, the approach taken by Charles Eisenstein is actually what makes most sense to me.

Rather than trusting some external doctrine on what we should or shouldn’t eat, this book helps you access a higher authority: Your own body.

The approach this book takes is what I have based my Health Coaching on, and even the name of my website: Healthwise. It is about connecting with your own inner wisdom to find the food and lifestyle habits that nourish YOU best because no one way of eating works for everyone.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

Trusting my own body’s wisdom has helped me find true freedom with food. I also loved the unorthodox view of eating animals which you can read here.

What I have noticed with both myself and my clients is that when you start eating from a place of trust and intuition, this has a ripple effect and you start living your whole life more intuitively.

Find Out More: 

Read my blog post on Eisenstein’s definition of karma.

Watch this 3 minute video by the author


Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

I read this book during Christmas 2012, then spent 2013 trying to put it into practice and watching videos on the Byron Katie website. I re-read it this December and it spoke to me even more.

For me, this book is based on 3 main ideas:

1. It is not what happens to us but our thoughts about what happens that cause suffering, especially not accepting the reality of what is. As Byron Katie says,  “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time”. 

2. We do not need to attach to our thoughts – we can examine them using the 4 questions outlined in Byron Katie’s method, The Work.

3. For every thought that causes suffering, the opposite or a turn around can be just as true.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

I constantly try to examine my own thinking and this has brought me much more peace. I have also integrated it into my Health Coaching practice as certain beliefs can often stop us from making the healthy change we want.

Find Out More:

You can find all the resources you need to do The Work yourself on Byron Katie’s excellent website here.

Watch this 10 minute summary of the book:


The Slow Down Diet by Marc David

Marc David is the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. He focuses on applying psychology and nutrition in a way that is novel and exciting for me.

This books focuses not so much on WHAT we eat, but on how our attitude to food, the quality of what we eat, when we eat and how we eat affects our metabolism.

Marc David’s main idea is that it is only by slowing down, decreasing stress and truly taking pleasure in eating that we can sustainably change our relationship to food and increase our metabolism to lose weight.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

A deeper understanding of the mind-body connection as related to emotional eating, weight loss, and digestion.

Find Out More: 

Read this blog post I wrote on how WHEN we eat impacts our metabolism, inspired by this book.


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Brené Brown is a researcher and storyteller who has studied emotions such as vulnerability and shame. This book discusses how vulnerability is not about being weak or imperfect, but is essential to living wholeheartedly and truly connecting with people.

According to her research, if we are unable to be vulnerable, to take risks, to open up to people or make mistakes, we risk living a life that is lonely, detached and unfulfilled.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

A realization that to live a truly connected life, I need to risk being vulnerable more, even if this means opening myself up to failure and rejection. It also made me realize that behind perfectionism is a fear of not being good enough.

Find Out More: 

A 3 minute animated film on empathy which summarizes Brené Brown’s approach incredibly well. :

You can also watch her TED talks on vulnerability and on shame.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is the opening paragraph of the book:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Doesn’t it already have you hooked?

This book juggles themes such as pride, goodness, love, the human need we all have for magic and escape and enchantment and the lengths we are willing to go to follow our passion…or to prove a point. The structure of the book is also very unique, told from the point of view of different characters at different moments in time. Yet it somehow all comes together in a way that left me spellbound.

How It Has Changed My Thinking:

More than change my thinking, this book left me with a feeling: A lingering air of pure magic.

Find Out More: 

Watch the trailer for the book:

Travel is an Attitude

Travel is an attitudeFive years ago, my husband and I took a six month travel sabbatical from the corporate world, backpacking and camping through several countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania. To say this experience was life-changing does not do it justice – we now talk about life ‘Before and After Sabbatical’!

Yet the biggest shift this trip brought on was in our attitude to travel. Before this sabbatical, travel was just something we did 2 weeks of the year while we were away from home – 2 weeks during which we would fully live, while the rest of the year was mostly just work.

After 6 months of almost non-stop travel, we came to a strange conclusion: We realized that traveling is about more than just being in a different place – true travel is an attitude. So we came up with a ‘Keep Traveling’ mantra – a way of applying our favorite aspects of travel to our everyday lives.

If you are longing to travel, here are five ways to do it without leaving home!

1. ‘Keep traveling’ means embracing fear as a necessary part of growth

Travel forces us to take a small step – or many steps – away from our comfort zone, and stepping away from our comfort zone is where the magic happens. It’s where we discover sides to ourselves we didn’t even know existed.

Everyday life provides plenty of opportunities to push past our fears – from letting go of something or someone that no longer serves you, to saying no to someone and standing up for yourself. And despite how uncomfortable, and well, scary, fear can be, it is also a sign that we are growing and moving forward in life.


2. ‘Keep traveling’ means being open to new experiences wherever we are

Travel enables us to experience new things – both man made and natural. Seeing kangaroos on a beach at sunrise, taking a helicopter ride or experiencing Angkor Wat at sunset is awe-inspiring.

Daily life provides plenty of opportunities for new experiences IF we create them. These can be as small as trying a new restaurant rather than always going to the same ones, taking that dance class you’ve been meaning to take, learning a new language, reading a book or shaking up your eating habits.


3. ‘Keep traveling’ sees differences as enriching, rather than threatening

Travel opens our minds to different ways of doing things. It gently (or sometimes not so gently) takes us by the hand and reveals that other ways, beliefs and attitudes exist – and that they, too, are valid. In doing so, it provides the opportunity to re-examine our own beliefs and habits.

In everyday life, we are faced with different beliefs and attitudes all around us, but we don’t choose to see these as intriguing – annoying can be a more apt description. Yet we can always choose to be open to differences in opinions and values that come from our family or co-workers. Accepting them with the same openness and curiosity we show ‘foreign’ cultures can be a novel experience.


4. ‘Keep traveling’ means being open to connection

Away from the cocoon of our known lives, we are more vulnerable and open, both with people we know and people we don’t. And while we rarely stay in touch with those we meet, for a brief moment, we have walked along the same path, and this interaction leaves us all the richer. It acts as a humble reminder, as Maya Angelou says, that “we are more alike than we are unalike” despite the apparent differences.

We don’t actually need to physically travel to connect with people or be more open and vulnerable with those around us. We can choose to live with open hearts every day even if this makes us more vulnerable. Why not bring the same relaxed and laid-back attitude we have on holiday when dealing with the people around us?


5. ‘Keep traveling’ means taking the necessary distance from life

Being able to briefly press the pause button on everyday routines provides a bird’s eye view of life.Travel enables us to assess what matters most, to re-evaluate our priorities and what we want or need to change in our daily lives.

And here I concede that a change in environment is helpful – but so is journaling, meditating or simply leaving more space to just BE so you can gain some distance from life.


How will you ‘Keep traveling’ in your everyday life?

Finding Bliss…Everyday


With summer in full bloom, what better time to make finding bliss in everyday life a daily habit? That is what my “Find your daily bliss” 15-day challenge on Facebook set out to do at the beginning of the month.

Here are some realizations on bliss this awesome group of Bliss Seekers revealed:

Bliss moments can be created: Relaxing with a nice cup of chai tea, taking time to pamper oneself, making raw brownies, going on a swing in a park instead of just walking past or choosing to work outside (as in the photo above).

Some bliss moments creep up on us like a sudden thunderstorm on a scorching day or getting a present from someone.

♦ Often, bliss is what you make of it – getting caught in the rain and choosing to dance and splash in the puddles or being in a dangerous situation and choosing to focus on the happy outcome instead.

Bliss can also just be a feeling or realization, such as the feeling that you are exactly where you need to be right now, doing exactly what you want to be doing.

Seeking bliss makes you more mindful: It can be something you become aware of that you might not have noticed before becoming a Bliss Seeker, such as the smell of summer in the air during an evening run or the sound of birds tweeting.

Bliss can even be found in unexpected moments: Through being able to find little moments of bliss despite a difficult time, or by turning activities such as cleaning or organizing into moments of bliss.

♦ Sharing bliss with others through this Facebook group made the bliss moment even more precious and meaningful – a bliss moment shared, is a bliss moment magnified.

Above all, the greatest realization is that we can always find moments of bliss – they come from within. Of course, being on holiday or in out in the sun makes it easier to find these bliss moments, but the overwhelming impression from the challenge is that they can be found anywhere, anytime, no matter what we are going through.

We can always choose bliss. And writing down our bliss or sharing it with others helps us see it more clearly.

As written in this article:

Pursuing pleasure is a worthy goal. Life happens whether we are mindful of it or not, and being mindful of the quirky, the fun, and the meaningful makes these things stand out more in the mosaic of one’s time. We see what we’re looking for and, as I’m reminded every day, writing things down can help us see.

We have decided to keep posting our bliss moments, not necessarily everyday, but to keep the group open to support and share with each other. So if you would like to become a Bliss Seeker, join the group!

Eating away from home

This weekend was my birthday (33 already!) and I spent a few beautiful days in the south of France.

Of course, this involved quite a bit of eating out, making this the perfect time to share my eating away from home philosophy:

♦ If it is a special occasion, enjoy it and enjoy the company instead of obsessing about the food. Remember that 80% is perfection – but also that being with people you love and having a great time is just as important for your health as what you eat.

♦ As a general rule, try to make the healthiest choice possible in the context you are in. Regardless of where you are – in a restaurant or at an airport for example – cultivate the habit of always choosing the most healthy (or least unhealthy) choice available. Don’t let yourself off the hook just because there isn’t anything you would classify as really ‘healthy’. There is always a ‘healthier’ option and this can actually end up making a big difference in the long run, especially if you eat out a lot.

♦ Don’t be afraid to ask for changes to an order – such as vegetables with steak instead of fries. Restaurants are surprisingly flexible about this and if they can’t do it, they’ll let you know. No harm in asking!

Share! My mother used to say ‘Calories shared are calories halved’ and this is the philosophy I use particularly with desserts.

Stop eating when you are full. We tend to associate an empty plate with being full, but if you listen to your body’s signals, you might actually feel full before that. Despite what you might have heard as a child, you ARE allowed to leave food on your plate.

♦ I also like to bring some of my own food, in case we don’t have time to stop for a meal or need a snack. For this trip, I made the chia bread below based on this recipe.

chia bread

 What about you, do you have any other tips for eating out?

Choices – what are you really saying ‘yes’ to?

I just finished a great book called The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein

One of the most interesting aspects was Eisenstein’s definition of karma related to food: By choosing to eat this food, what world am I saying ‘yes’ to?

For example:

By choosing locally grown, organic food whenever possible, we say ‘yes’ to a gentler, less industrialized world where food doesn’t need to be sprayed or flown half-way across the world.

By eating processed, frozen or artificial food, we say ‘yes’ to a life that is disconnected from warmth and authenticity.

But this can also be applied to any choice in life:

By confronting something that scares us, we say ‘yes’ to a world where are no longer controlled by our fears.

By staying in a relationship or job that makes us feel small and worthless, we say ‘yes’ to a world where this is how we deserve to be treated.

This simple question has now become the prism through which I make decisions: By making this choice or even just thinking this thought, what world am I saying ‘yes’ to?

After all, as Dumbledore so wisely tells Harry Potter:

It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities (J.K. Rowling)