5 Ways to Stay Focused & Reach Your Goals

As of late I’ve been really struggling to get up as early as I’d like to in the morning. Ideally, I’d like to get up at 5:30 so I can get in my prayer, meditation, workout and breakfast before work. When I get these things done before work I’m able to be more productive all day. I also have such a tremendous sense of accomplishment before 9AM.

If I’m being honest, I’m able to do this maybe once a week, sometimes two. On the other days I’m getting up at 6:00 or 6:30. That leaves me just enough time to spend a few minutes in prayer before I head to the gym for a quick workout or I workout after work. My meditation gets put off until later. I manage to get things done, but not in the ideal way I’d like.

So, this quote has really stuck with me lately.


When I read this quote it made me question my priorities. If these things are important to me, why am I not able to make them happen?

I remember a few years ago when I was living in Columbus I was on a quest to lose 20-25 pounds. I had to be at work at 8am. I wanted to get my workouts done in the morning. I’d get up at 4:30am to be at the gym by 5am. I was so committed. I remember going to bed every night by 8:30 so I could get the rest I needed to be up so early. I was literally in bed before the sun went down. As I began to lose weight, I became even more motivated. I started adding an evening run in the park a couple of times a week, so I could accelerate my weight loss. Needless to say, I hit my goal and lost about 23 pounds. I felt incredible.

As I reflect on that time, the greatest difference between then and now is I made it a priority. It was important to me. I wanted to feel good and get the weight off that was making me so unhappy. Whenever I wanted to slack off I thought about my end goal. In addition to my workouts I was on Weight Watchers. Knowing I had to weigh in every week was a motivator. I refused to be embarrassed by not making progress. The accountability helped me.

Sometimes we identify goals we have, but we quickly lose our motivation when it’s time to start the work. We all go through this from time to time. I’ve seen a shift in my attitude lately and I’m starting to get back on track. There are some strategies that are working for me and I want to share them with you. Here are “5 Ways to Stay Focused and Reach Your Goals”:

1. Determine your “why”.  What was the catalyst for change? Your health, your marriage, your family? You will need to remember these things when it gets tough.

2. Get some accountability. Is there someone you can enlist to help you? Do you need a workout buddy? Knowing someone is expecting you to show up makes it easier to follow through.

3. Celebrate small victories. Even when you make minor progress towards your goals its incentive to keep it up. When you lose 1-2 pounds of your 20 pound goal – celebrate that. Acknowledge how difficult it is to lose 1 pound in a week. That’s 3500 calories you had to burn. If it’s not weight loss, are you snacking less? Are you adding more veggies than you ever have before? These are all small victories. Don’t wait until you get to the end to celebrate.

4. Create structure and organization. Put the time you need to devote to this goal on your calendar and respect your appointment with yourself. In my case, I want to get up earlier so I can’t stay up until midnight. I need to commit to having a set time to get in bed early and stick to it.

5. Remember what’s in it for you. How will accomplishing your goal change your life? What will reaching this goal allow you to do? What’s at stake if you don’t accomplish your goal? The answer to these questions need to be at the forefront of your mind at all times. When you want to give up, they will remind you why you’re doing this in the first place.

Now, just do it. It will be a lot easier if you can remember these five tips. I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to keep pushing through to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I’d love to hear about the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Here’s my question for you: Are you finding it hard to do the things you say you want to do? Which one of these tips will help you get back on track?

Lose Weight, Increase Your Energy – By Doing This Simple Thing!


Since I was a child I have always loved breakfast. My mom always prepared it for us. Even if we mostly ate cereal during the week, she always went all out every Sunday morning before church. That’s when she’d usually make us french toast and bacon or sausage. Yeah, I wasn’t always a vegan. I grew up in South GA, eating pork and meat was a requirement.

Anyway, as I got older she’d make me “coffee”. It was really a drop of coffee with a bunch of milk and sugar. It was special to me because she would serve it to me in the cutest little tea cups on a saucer. But my all time favorite treat was when we were low on groceries and my mom would make breakfast for dinner. For some reason, breakfast always tasted better at dinner time! That was the BEST! So, to this day, it’s the meal I always look forward to.

Having said that, I realize that not everybody feels the same way. I know people who can’t bare the thought of eating anything first thing in the morning. Of course, if you feel that way, it might be hard to get you to shift your mindset about it. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

Turns out, there are many health benefits to eating breakfast. Here are my top five reasons:

1. Gets your metabolism going. The word breakfast itself explains why this is the case. In the morning you’re coming off a fasting state. Having breakfast, enables you to “break” the “fast.” Your body responds to not eating for hours and hours by slowing down it’s metabolic rate. By eating breakfast, you wake up your metabolism and get your engine revved up, burning those calories you need to burn to lose weight.  –

2. Increases energy  - eating breakfast replenishes your supply of glucose and provides other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Glucose is the body’s energy source. It is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. In the morning, after you have gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glycogen stores are low. Glycogen is the glucose that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver where it is released slowly overnight to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Once all of the energy from the glycogen stores is used up, your body starts to break down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs.

3. Decreases snacking throughout the day. People who skip breakfast tend to nibble on snacks during the mid-morning or afternoon. This can be a problem if those snacks are low in fiber, vitamins and minerals, but high in fat and salt. Without the extra energy that breakfast can offer, some breakfast skippers feel lethargic and turn to high-energy food and drinks to get them through the day.

4. Reduces Weight – One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day, and help people make better food choices at other meals. Some rationalize that by skipping breakfast they are saving calories. Typically, any calories “saved” at breakfast get consumed later. Hunger gets the best of breakfast-skippers. They end up eating more at lunch and throughout the day.

5. Boosts brain function. The brain needs fuel to function at peak performance. This fuel comes in the form of glucose derived from food. It’s needed to walk, talk and perform all other activities. When you skip breakfast your brain is forced to work extra hard in breaking down stored carbohydrates or to turn fats and proteins into usable forms of glucose. Eating breakfast has been proven to improve concentration, increase problem solving capabilities, enhance overall mental performance and boost memory and mood.

So, if you routinely skip breakfast, I hope these compelling reasons will inspire you to make it a regular part of your day.

Question: Do you usually skip breakfast?

Reference Links:




Namaste Everyday

Whether its in my personal or professional life I’m someone who is very goal oriented. I seem to thrive on having a goal. It’s how I keep myself inspired to keep moving forward. If I don’t have something I’m working towards I tend to feel stagnant.

Typically, my goals are motivated by a desire to improve in a particular facet of my life. More often than not my desire comes from an internal place. That is certainly the case with my latest endeavor.


For the past two weeks I’ve been doing a yoga challenge. It evolved from a place of feeling disconnected. Ironically, this feeling emerged while I was training for my triathlon. I was getting a lot of physical activity and was motivated by that. But, I’m a firm believer that the mind, body, and spirit must be aligned for me to have a shot at real happiness. I was getting my physical body in shape. Unfortunately, my mind and spirit weren’t invited to the party.

Yoga is something I’m fascinated with because I firmly believe in all of its benefits. My issue is that I’m so inflexible I tend to shy away from it. I don’t like how uncomfortable I tend to feel while doing it, so I avoid it. When in actuality it’s the thing I need to be doing so I can improve my flexibility. It’s like the saying goes, real change happens outside your comfort zone.

As I’ve learned from my friend Ryan – a yoga instructor- yoga is a gentle practice. So, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. You should go as far as you can in a yoga pose, as long as it feels good.  Ryan was featured in a past blog. Please check out the Namaste Everyday video to hear more of her views and to preview her class.

Here’s how my challenge works. I committed to do yoga every day for  at least 10 minutes for 21 days. Since I’ve gotten past week one, I’ve increased my duration. I’m also including daily meditation.

My intention for this challenge is to get to a place of peace by learning to be in the moment. For weeks I’ve been distracted with life and the things that have not been going the way I want them to go. I need to surrender a few things. I believe this challenge will help me do that. One of the things I have always enjoyed about yoga is it forces me to be in the moment. When you’re focusing on your poses/stretches you can’t think about anything else.

The other thing I want to transpire out of this challenge is to be able to incorporate more yoga into my life and workouts. I figure after 21 days of doing it everyday it will become a habit.

Here are a few benefits I’m already experiencing:

1. My flexibility is improving. Several areas of my body that are really tight are beginning to loosen up, especially my lower back.

2. I’m gaining a tremendous appreciation for my body. We require so much of our bodies every day. Yoga makes me appreciate all that it does and is capable of doing.

3. It’s helping me to stress less and let things go. I’m learning that things will always work out. I don’t have to try to control anything or anybody. In fact, at any given moment of my day I can start it again. If my day starts to go downhill, it doesn’t have to continue to do so. I can stop it and begin again.  I don’t quite get how this awesome practice can do that for me, but somehow it does.

As I’m approaching the final week of my challenge I want to go further spiritually. A friend recently shared a very personal spiritual experience she had while doing yoga. It made me envious. I would love to have a similar encounter. Regardless of whether or not I’m able to have what she had, I want to go deeper. This process has the potential to be life changing, so I don’t want to settle for less.

I’ve been asked by several people what kind of challenge I’m doing. I’ve sort of created my own by researching yoga instructors on YouTube. I choose a different session every day. However, when I initially started researching a 21-day challenge I found one that seems pretty simple. It’s through Yoga Journal. They have a plan for the beginner and intermediate levels. Once you subscribe on their website, they will send you an email every day with a link to a different practice.

I’ve shared with you my experience with yoga. Now, I’d love to hear about yours. Have you tried yoga? If so, how did it benefit you?

Kale Yeah I’m Vegan!

I have a new statement tank top I recently bought that I absolutely love. It says “Kale Yeah I’m Vegan.” I bought it because it’s cute and it makes a proud declaration that I’m vegan. I love being vegan. I don’t have to try to force it on others. It’s just a lifestyle that  works for me and I happen to love it.


Since I’ve bought the t-shirt I love the reaction I get from people when I wear it. It’s always a positive response. I enjoy that it’s a conversation starter too. I typically get unsolicited comments from people who tell me they’ve tried veganism in the past, but they couldn’t stick to it. Most make that admission in a way that they seem to judge themselves or feel bad that they weren’t able to sustain it.

Let me say, as proud as I am for being a vegan, I don’t judge those who are not. Nor do I judge those who wanted to do this, but didn’t find it worked for them. Honestly, it’s not for everybody. I believe that everybody can benefit from following a plant based diet. Yet I acknowledge that it’s not sustainable for every body.

Since I’ve encountered so many people who have tried vegan lifestyle, but didn’t continue, it got me to thinking. Why is it people find it unsustainable? I think there are several reasons for this.  Here are some of the most common:

1.  Too much too fast. It’s much easier to transition into this lifestyle. If you’ve been eating meat at every meal, you may not want to stop cold turkey. Try reducing the amount you consume over a week. Try cutting back to once a day, then go a full day without it, then as that gets manageable, add more days. Make it a gradual process.

2. Consuming too many carbs/lack of balance. When people try this lifestyle without preparation, they tend to eat a bunch of carbs because they aren’t aware of all the options out there. I fell into this trap too at first. Consuming a lot of rice, potatoes, beans, bread -it can leave you feeling bloated and ultimately lead to weight gain. Carbs are okay, but in moderation. Make sure you eat the right kinds of carbs. Complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes are excellent.

3. Lack of nutrients. Some people end up becoming “junketarians”; they tend to eat a lot of junk food. They don’t get the proper nutrients, so they are lethargic and drained of energy. If you’re eating more plants and a variety of vegetables you won’t feel so deprived. Also, incorporate healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds. These are healthy fats that leave you satiated, so you feel full longer.  

4. Too few food choices. Many people fall into the trap of eating the same things over and over. This results in boredom. There are so many options available to you. If you’re not creative, there are tons of resources online that offer fun, healthy, delicious meals. One of my favorite blogs to get recipes is The Simple Veganista. There are very few things non-vegans consume that we can’t get in a vegan variety. Everything from pasta to burgers, to breads and desserts. I dare say there are some foods in vegan form that if you try it, you won’t desire to go back to any other version.  

5. It’s not for everybody.  Some people will not do well on a vegan diet. There are a lot of factors that might impede certain people from thriving on this diet. If you find that you’re doing the things I’ve suggested in this blog and you’re still feeling bad or lethargic, then you should not continue. By all means, if you have severe health issues, you want to consult with your doctor before you make any drastic changes to your diet.

Just remember, there is no single path to health that will work for everybody. My primary desire is that you find the best path to health that works for you. Even if you don’t eliminate meat completely from your diet, everybody can benefit from incorporating more plant based foods into their meals.

If you want more information about how to successfully transition to a plant based diet, please check out my e-book on my website. It’s free to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter and email updates.

So, now I have a question for you. Have you tried to follow a vegan diet? If so, did it work for you? If not, what do you think went wrong? I’d love for you to post your comments on my blog. 


I Did It…Faced My Fear & Completed My First Triathlon!

After months of preparation and anticipation I finally completed my first ever sprint triathlon. As I write this blog a day has passed. Yet, I’m still too overwhelmed to express my feelings.  It’s hard to put my emotions into words. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

coming out of pool

There is so much to be said about setting a goal and accomplishing it. There is even more to be said about facing your fears. I am so fond of telling people to just do it afraid. I’ve always believed in that approach, but I now realize that it is so incredibly hard to do. I’ve faced my fears before, but none like this!

Prior to getting in the pool yesterday I thought I was going to be okay. I wasn’t prepared to swim in six feet of water, and I was terrified of doing so. I’ve been practicing in very shallow water. As long as my feet can touch the ground I’m good. Once they leave the ground for an extended period of time I freak out! It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I even tried to swim in more than six feet of water. The reason I thought I’d be okay on race day was because the pool started at four feet and increased to six feet as you swim the length. My rationale was I wouldn’t be in the deep for very long. I assumed I’d be able to swim through it, and maybe even use it to my advantage.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Since I hadn’t mastered my ability to breathe, I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to make it from five feet to  six feet of water without stopping. When I realized that, panic ensued. I have never been so scared in my life. My body was trembling and my eyes watered up with tears. The lifeguard literally had to jump in the water to help me. In that moment I knew my race was over. I thought, “This is it. He is definitely going to escort you out the pool.”

I didn’t expect him and the EMTs to give me a choice. When they asked me what I wanted to do, I immediately responded that I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to finish. From that point it became their mission to help me do that by any means necessary. The lifeguard even volunteered to stay in the pool with me for the duration of my swim. He vowed to stay by my side to assure me that I would not drown. He was prepared to save me. That comforted me.

As I swam the remaining laps, I became a bit more calm with every stroke. Eventually, I was at the last lap. I did it! I conquered the swimming portion. The sense of accomplishment I felt at that moment fueled me to the end.

The bike ride felt like a breeze compared to the swim. I was able to be fully present several times during the bike ride. I remember this awesome breeze on my face as I rode down hill. It was INCREDIBLE! I felt so free. I was so aware and present in that moment.


The last mile of the bike ride was the hardest because of the slight incline, but I was determined not to stop. I felt so empowered. I pushed through with every fiber of my being. I knew the run was next and it would be the final leg.

Even though the run was only two miles, it wasn’t flat. It was mostly inclines. It felt like the longest two miles of my life. I could not have completed that course without stopping if I had only been out for a run that day. It was hard.


Honestly, the difficulty of it did not matter to me. I just reminded myself that this was a freaking triathlon and it wasn’t meant to be easy. I was doing something that a lot of people can’t do. So, the fact that I was finishing last was the least of my concerns. My only objective was to finish. That was always my goal. I wasn’t trying to place. I just wanted to do my best. So far, I had done that.

Here’s the irony. All I wanted to do was finish. I didn’t want or expect any hoopla. But that’s exactly what I got. When I tell you the roars of cheers and applause I received when I crossed that finish line, you would have sworn I finished first! I literally heard them screaming for me before I even turned the last corner. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that in my life. I was slightly embarrassed as I crossed the finish line. Not because I was last, but because of all the attention they were giving me. It was so humbling to me. I felt like a million bucks. Everyone from my friends, to the EMTs, the police and the firefighters personally congratulated me and gave me a hug.


This experience has truly taught me that it’s not about how you start your race or even how you run it, all that matters is that you finish.

Now that I’ve shared my journey with you, I’d love to hear an experience you’ve had with facing your fears and how it felt when you did it. Please leave a comment on my blog.

Am I In It To Win It? Not So Much…

At the beginning of this year I thought about the major goals I wanted to accomplish this year. I considered some fun desires I have and want to accomplish. But I primarily took inventory of the things I was avoiding because of fear. I wanted to look fear in the face and pursue those things.


What immediately came to mind was my long standing desire to participate in a triathlon. I’ve wanted to do this for years. It scared me for several reasons. Obviously, it’s physically challenging – you have to do three grueling sports back to back. You also need to be in fairly good shape to do it, and the biggest fear of all – my inability to swim. You can’t participate in a triathlon if you can’t swim.

So, I immediately researched upcoming triathlons in GA and I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. I wanted to be around people who know about this sport and who could teach me the basics. The next thing I wanted to do was identify a race that wasn’t too far into the year. I needed something that required me to start training right away. I found several beginner races in the summer.

Within two months of joining ATC, I began swimming lessons. This experience has been a real journey. I’ve had good days and bad days. There have been moments I showed up at the pool and it was an epic fail–practically left in tears because I felt so defeated. Other times it all seemed to come together without effort and I felt triumphant.

As the weeks have winded down the challenges are ever increasing. As I write this blog, I’m a week and a half away from my sprint triathlon. Honestly, it’s feeling like it’s not going to happen. Every day I ask myself “what have you gotten yourself into?” Though I have certain aspects of the swimming down, I still can’t breathe, which prevents me from being able to swim a full lap without stopping numerous times. For me, this is where the rubber meets the road because I’m past the point of no return. No matter how much I want to quit and wait for a later triathlon, I know that’s not an option.  It’s extremely important for me to walk the walk that I talk. I’m always encouraging others to face their fears and do it afraid. How can I not do this for myself. This process has forced me to face my fears daily. I was initially only worried about the swim, but since I’ve bought my bike a new fear has surfaced. I was afraid to get on it. I initially couldn’t even mount the bike; I couldn’t get my feet in the pedals. When I finally did I was afraid of falling, especially as I rode down hill. These new anxieties threw me into a panic. That voice in my head keeps trying to convince me that I can’t do this.

Just as I want to give into the negativity God sends an earth angel – one I recognize as a friend. My friends are always at the ready to remind me of how far I’ve come. They remind me that three short months ago I was afraid to even get in the water. Now I’m in the pool by myself almost every day.

Despite the fact that my mind keeps telling me I can’t do it, my actions are demonstrating that I can. I AM doing it. I may not do it like I envisioned it, but I’m doing it.

I’m going to keep pushing forward. I’ve made up in my mind that I will do this no matter what. My preference is to finish with dignity. I don’t want to have to keep stopping multiple times to finish my 6 laps. I also don’t want to walk my bike up any hills I might encounter. Because of that, I am going to continue to train and practice every day until race day. I’m determined to do this by any means necessary. All I want to do is finish. I’m not in this to win it, I’m in it to finish!

Now, I have a question for you. Have you confronted any fears this year? If so, please share those with me here on my blog.

Build Muscle on a Vegan Diet – Vegan Athlete Explains How

If you ask any vegan the most common question they get – they will undoubtedly tell you it’s: “Where do you get your protein?” The short answer is we get it from veggies, beans, nuts and seeds.

Well, for the past few months I’ve been training to participate in my first ever triathlon and one of my goals is to build more muscle. I recently started working with a trainer, and I’m up against this same thing – the protein issue.

Typical non-vegan trainers tend to believe we can’t build muscle without animal or soy protein. Of course, I don’t believe in consuming a lot of soy products because research indicates that it increases estrogen levels, and consequently increases the chances of getting cancer.

So, this week I’m thrilled to introduce you to a vegan fitness professional I recently met. She is a personal trainer and owns her own fitness studio.

Cynthia Florence is the owner of Pure Energy Fitness Studio in Marietta,  Ga.

Check out this video to find out more about how she builds and sustains her muscles by following a plant based diet.

Cynthia Florence

After viewing the video please leave a comment. Do you believe it’s possible to build muscle on a vegan diet? I would love to hear your thoughts.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from “Wonder Woman”

As a child, I grew up watching the “Super Friends” every Saturday morning. My favorite Superhero was Wonder Woman. When we were bored, me and my friends would spend countless hours reenacting this cartoon. I would always choose to play Wonder Woman. Little did I know that my fascination with her would unconsciously transfer into my adult life. She has to be the catalyst for why I seem to have this idea that I can do anything and everything!

WonderWoman-Linda Carter

Since I was young I’ve had multiple interests. As a teenager, I remember saying I wanted to work in the medical field, work in psychology, become a teacher, and ultimately a reporter. I don’t know what sparked the desire for most of those interests. I know I wanted to become a reporter from the time Oprah hit the national scene. The others are a mystery to me.

I’m also fortunate to have a diverse set of skills and talents. What I know now is this can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I can do a multitude of things. A curse because I can do a multitude of things. Yes, you read that right. It’s not a typo. The ability to do multiple things can make it difficult to choose which direction to go. Consequently, it can make you feel stifled.

I’ve never felt the need to choose one talent over the other. At least not until recently. I’ve always tried to do it all and now that’s taking a toll on me. The past few weeks I’ve felt stagnant. As I’m trying to transition to the next level in business, I’m overwhelmed with options. There are several things I do well, and also happen to enjoy. I’m finding it difficult to integrate everything. What do you do when you love a lot of things?

Even looking at the list of jobs I mentioned earlier, they’ve all played a part in what I’m doing today. I’ve actually worked in each of those areas. I became a Hospital Corpsman when I was in the Navy. While working in that capacity I obtained a specialty in psychology. For years I worked in a setting that allowed me to counsel people. After the military I went to college to become a news reporter. I worked in that field for nearly 10 years. As for the teaching, I’ve been teaching people all of my life. Of course, I offer workshops through my business. But in my personal life I’m always trying to share knowledge with everybody around me. My personal philosophy is each one teach one.

As I’m trying to solidify the next steps in my life, I’ve learned a few key lessons.

1. You can’t give 100% effort to any one thing if you’re spread too thin. Sometimes you have to choose an area of focus and then totally commit. Once you establish yourself in one area, you can then venture off to other areas.

2. I’m not Wonder Woman. I don’t have super powers. We have to know our limits. Once you reach the limits, you have to pull back.

3. Perfection is an unrealistic goal. If you wait to reach perfection before you do anything nothing gets done. Just start where you are and know that it’s enough. You’ll have what you need when you need it.

4. I don’t have to do everything at the same time. Choose what works for you in the particular season you are in your life. Determine what’s most important in this season in your life and design a life that supports that. Set a list of priorities and then establish timelines for when you want to pursue those goals. You don’t have to do it all at once.

5. Enjoy the journey – stop worrying about the destination. Too often we make the end game the main focus. It’s not so much about reaching a specific goal. It’s about the work that goes into accomplishing the goal, and the feeling of satisfaction you get once you accomplish it.

So, these are just a few of the key lessons I’m learning in the midst of this process. Just outlining my thoughts in this blog has helped me get more clear about my next steps. Thank you for being my sounding board!

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do any of these lessons resonate with you? If so, which ones and how?

Triathlon Training -Sinking in the Midst of My Swim


The experience of training for my first triathlon has been such a journey. It has its share of ups and downs. For the past couple of weeks, there have been less ups and more downs. In particular, the swimming portion. Let’s face it, when you decide to participate in a triathlon you know it’s going to be difficult. Factor in the fact that you can’t swim and it becomes daunting.

So, I devised a strategy – eat this elephant one bite at a time. First things first – learn how to swim. I was scared to death when I showed up for my first lesson. Nevertheless, I faced my fear of getting in the water and just did it. The next lesson I progressed exponentially, I actually swam. I learned the basic techniques and was able to move from one side of the pool to the other – with my coach right beside me of course. By the time I made my third visit to the pool, I was in the water on my own. I finally realized that the likelihood of me drowning in four feet of water was pretty slim. That revelation helped me a lot.

It’s now mid May and it feels like my progress has halted. This week it feels like I hit a wall. My confidence has faded and I feel like I’m back to square one. The defeating thoughts I’m battling in my mind have begun to get the best of me. All I seem to focus on is what I’m not doing right. I can’t swim the length of the pool without stopping; I can’t breathe; my form is bad, etc. The entire time I’m in the pool I’m consumed with these thoughts.

It wasn’t until I shared my concerns with a couple of friends that they help me come to a few realizations. First, all I’m focusing on is what I consider are the negative things. They reminded me that a few weeks ago I wouldn’t even get in the water, and now I’m swimming on my own.

Second, this is still new to me and it takes practice. I compared this experience to when I learned to drive a stick shift. It seemed so hard! There were too many things to focus on. Once I got the hang of it, it was a breeze. It felt so easy and I wondered why I complicated it so much.

As it was the case when I was learning to drive a stick shift, learning to swim is going to take practice. Therein lies my problem. I am not practicing enough. When I look back over the last two weeks I have swam once, maybe twice. I need to swim more. Unless I make it a priority I won’t get better. So, I’ve adjusted my strategy. I typically workout 5-6 days a week. I’m going to add swimming on at least three of those days – more if possible.

Furthermore, I’ve been judging myself so harshly and I need to stop that. I was so insecure about my limited swimming abilities I allowed it to hinder me from going to the pool. If there were other people in the pool I’d get anxious and self-conscious. I believe that has affected my performance.

Today as I was swimming – all the lanes were full. I even had to share my lane with someone. So, if I wanted to get in practice time I had to do it with an audience. It’s actually pretty narcissistic when you think about it. Those people are not there to see me, I’m not Michael Phelps. They’re doing their own thing. But when you’re self-conscious these are the tricks your mind plays on you.

As it turned out, having an “audience” worked out in my favor. The other swimmers were very nice. Most of the people in the water offered me constructive criticism. I knew my technique was bad, but I didn’t know how to correct it. So when they offered feedback I wasn’t embarrassed or insulted. I was relieved.

Each of them were able to give me feedback that will help me. If I were swimming alone, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m sure I’d learn through trial and error, but it would take me much longer. Unfortunately, time is not on my side. I’m trying to complete my first triathlon at the end of June, so I don’t have time to waste. I’m grateful they took the time out to help me.

This experience is teaching me so much about myself. It’s helping me face my fears. It’s forcing me out of my comfort zone, and it’s teaching me to be compassionate with myself.

So, that’s where I am for now. I will keep you posted as I continue on this journey. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any suggestions to help me on my journey. What has worked for you when you encounter challenges as you pursue your goals?

When it Comes to Buying Peanut Butter – Don’t Trust the Labels

Obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Consequently, more than 108 million people are on a diet. So, it stands to reason that many of those people are seeking healthy options in the grocery store.

The annual revenue of the U.S. weight loss industry is $20 billion dollars a year. This total includes diet books, diet drugs and weight loss surgeries. It seems like  everybody is trying to cash in. With everything from cereal to potato chips to chocolate being labeled as natural and gluten free, a random trip to the grocery store can get confusing.

Unfortunately, with so much money to be made by the food industry, you can’t blindly trust what you see on the labels. Just because something is labeled natural, or even organic, it doesn’t mean it’s the best option.

There are a few foods that can really be misleading, including bread, cereal, and salad dressing. The one that is among the most misleading for me is peanut butter. It’s actually one of my favorite snacks. I love it. I eat it every day. I mix it with my oatmeal. I top apple slices with it. I add a spoonful to my smoothies. And more often than I should, I just eat it right off the spoon.

Peanut butter has a lot of health benefits. Like avocado and olive oil it’s considered a healthy fat. It contains more unsaturated fat than saturated fat, so it’s heart healthy. It’s also a good source of potassium, fiber and protein. The key is to consume it in moderation.

In today’s blog I discuss how the labels you find on peanut butter are very misleading. Despite all the overall health benefits of it, all varieties are not created the same. Just because it says organic and it’s more expensive doesn’t make it better. It’s not what you see on the front label that matters. It’s what you see on the back.

Once you’ve watched the video, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you purchased peanut butter based on the label? Have you ever considered that all varieties are not the same?