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How to get mental energy and motivation to work out

This time of year, most of us seem to be somewhat sluggish. Crazy busy, of course, with work and family and pets, rush-rush-rush, then at night we can’t wait to drop down to the couch and just zone out.

And all our plans to exercise more, eat healthier or lose weight are abandoned, mostly. With the nagging sense of failure.

I hate it when it happens. I’d like to give you some tips to manage your energy level and positive attitude and keep working towards your new year’s plan.

Choose your friends carefully

In 2010, the United States Air Force Academy decided to figure out why some of their cadets increased their fitness levels during their training, and some don’t, although they all went through the same training.

Well, the difference they found was in the attitude of the least fit person in their training group.

horizont_jump_small
Source: Val Vesa on Unsplash.com

If the least fit cadet in the group was motivated and eager to improve, his enthusiasm spread to the others as well, and their fitness level increased over the years.

If the least fit cadet, on the other hand, was indifferent or negative, he dragged the whole group down.

Conclusion: choose your friends wisely! Listening to a negative coworker who complains all the time about being chubby but never does anything… It is not only annoying but it can diminish your motivation and slow down your own progress as well.

Conversely, if we look for the company of people who are enthusiastic about their health and work for some similar goals than us, we have a lot better chance to succeed. 😊

Simplify your life

Did you know, that decision-making and self-control uses up tons of mental energy and willpower?

Even if it is just mundane grocery shopping, or deciding what to eat, or resisting those chocolate chips cookies. Those little things waste our energy, and there’s none left for the big stuff that really matters.

One helpful suggestion is to simplify our lives.

This is the reason why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same T-shirt every day. Einstein, Steve Jobs and Barack Obama are all known to wear the same type of clothes all the time, too, for the same reason.

How to eliminate decisions?

wardrobe_small
Source: chuttersnap on Unsplash.com

Here’s some examples and ideas.

  • Streamline your wardrobe. Girls can do that, too, even though the examples are more difficult to find!
  • Use a weekly menu. Plan it, shop it, cook it once a week, done, no more decisions on what to eat.
  • Have a daily schedule. Do the same activities around the same time of the day. For example, exercise always at the same time. No decisions plus creates a nice, easy habit. Two birds with one stone.
  • Focus on one area of your life. For example, if you are going through a tough time at work with tons of projects and hard decisions, don’t change your diet. Just skip eating pure sh*t for now, and revise your diet when you can give it your full attention.
  • Cut back on social activities and volunteering if they not related to your BIG GOAL.
  • Stop being a perfectionist about secondary stuff. Let it go. Who cares.

Work with your energy levels

Not only decision-making can deplete our energy. There are night owls and larks, extroverts and introverts, low and high cortisol stress types. It is important to be aware of our natural ups and downs, and deal with them. It will help to stick to our diet, go to the gym, make better choices through-out the day.

  • Schedule your exercise in sync with your energy level.
  • Give yourself a break from people if you are an introvert, or find a way to connect with someone if you are an extrovert.
  • Find the right snack, low in sugar, high in protein, to give you energy when you need it.
  • Low cortisol types, eat breakfast and move a little! These will start your engine better than living on coffee until lunch.

Just do it

lady_gym
Source: Matias Saw on Unsplash.com

Well, this one is dead simple. Show up.

To quote writer James Clear from the book, “The single greatest skill in any endeavor is doing the work. Not doing the work that is easy for you. Not doing the work that makes you look good. Not doing the work when you feel inspired. Just doing the work.”

And dependably, the fun will come. I will start enjoying my laps although I didn’t feel like getting in the cold pool on a freezing winter day… And I will start enjoying my run, although I was dragging my feet out of the house first, purely out of habit.

You don’t have to be super-women all the time. Sometimes just doing the bare minimum is all we can manage.

As long as you move 15 minutes, you did enough for today, girl.

So don’t wait for the best mood. Just go and do the workout. You’ll be so proud and happily tired when you are done. 😊

Don’t beat yourself up

I was listening to my health coaching teacher the other day. She talked about how we feel we should do this, should do that, but sometimes we cannot. We are dead tired, totally drained after the days’ work, and kids and all that. And then we beat ourselves up for not having enough will-power, not being strong, not being good enough.

Sounds familiar? I know that every single woman I know tells this to herself.

If you are hard on yourself like this, too, I want you to stop it. Now.

You are doing your best. You have a lot on your plate. Give yourself credit for the work you did already today.

And for tomorrow, you can pick an idea from this post and try it.

Maybe it saves you enough energy to take a baby step toward your goal.

Take care,

Livia

Resources

Stulbers, Brad; Magness, Steve: Peak performance

14 great winter cardio ideas for the body and the spirit

Do you feel you are a lot less active int the winter then in the summer? Do you struggle to find good activities in these cold, snowy months? Other than relaxing on the couch…

puppy on sofa

You’re not alone. We all miss the nice, long days of the summer when we can easily go for a quick jog or bike ride even on weekdays because it is so beautiful outside all evening!

But now it is cold, wet and gets dark early. And my spirits are quite low, honestly. Which means I want to snack on chocolate, which means I will put on weight.

But no, not today. I will grab myself by the hair, do some cardio and cheer up. 🙂

Here’s the great ideas I got from the ladies in a fitness Facebook group I’m member of. They are fed up with the treadmill, too! Thank you, guys!

Winter cardio ideas outdoors

Do you live in an area where it snows? Cold? Maybe have some slopes or ice, too? Then these are all great choices for you over the weekends:

  1. Cross-country ski
  2. Downhill ski
  3. Winter hiking
  4. Skating
  5. Hockey
  6. Sledding
  7. Snowshoeing
  8. Shoveling 🙂

How much calorie we burn doing winter sports?

Apparently, quite a few! Cross-country skiing takes the lead, hockey is next. Downhill skiing, sledding and snowboarding follows. Last but not least, skating and shoveling snow will still burn above 100 calories in ten minutes for a 220 lbs (100 kg) person. Smaller women obviously burn less, 60-70 percent of that. And it all depends on the intensity, too! 🙂

See this winter sports infographic for details.

Skating, sledding, snowshoeing for newbies

Benefits of skating, sledding or snowshoeing: affordable, available and kid-friendly. There are skating classes for adults who want to try it first time. Snowshoeing is rather easy, the biggest hurdle is how to put the damn thing on, hahaha! Join a group of people on meetup and they will show you what you need to know, going uphill/downhill, etc.

What do you need to start skiing?

cross_country sk

Mountains or places with cross country tracks. Some golf courses have them within the city, for example. As for ski equipment, it is available for rent for the price of movie tickets and popcorn. You can also buy used to get started.

You have no idea where to start? Watch videos and again, join a meetup group for an affordable option. That’s what I did, anyway, and it worked for me. 🙂 The videos show you what to do, and the meetup group organizer will pick a nice location and take care of the drive there.

Another choice for beginners is to find a ski school or instructor for more advice and support.

Indoor winter cardio ideas

As much as I love to go outside every day, sometimes it is not possible. Maybe my schedule is so hectic that by the time I look up from the computer is is dark already. Or maybe it is below minus 20 for weeks, like last winter. Or raining or snowing.

Then what?

Go dancing, that’s what! 🙂 Last Friday I decided to go, but it was very cold, and I was sure the place will be empty… Who would bother to get dressed and go out, right?

Luckily, I was wrong, the place was packed, and salsa music is just the antidote I needed for winter blues! So this will be the first on my list for indoors winter cardio!

9. Dancing through the winter

It is easy, fun and it burns calories, tones your legs and core, what else do you want?

dancers

Options include taking classes, going to Friday night social dances, to a dance club or finding great videos on YouTube and dance away at home. 🙂

10. Benefits of swimming

Although it is a bit scary first, to go out in the freezing cold to get wet, swimming is actually a very nice cardio option once or twice a week. It is

  • affordable,
  • gentle on your joints,
  • good after strength training day and
  • a great sleeping aid.

Hit the steam room after you’re done for cleaning out toxins and compensating for too dry winter air.

11. Cardio classes

Spinning, Zumba, barre, pole dancing, kick-box… There’s classes in the morning, at lunch hour and after work. For beginners and for more experienced people, and for all age ranges. Benefits are:

  • instructor to teach you the basics and push you beyond your comfort zone,
  • other women working for the same goal to keep you company,
  • variety of activities to fight boredom.

spinning_small

12. YouTube

And yes, if all else fails, there’s a blizzard outside, you’re hair is a mess and you have no clean gym clothes… You can count on YouTube, best friend of the DIY people and self-motivated fitness lovers. From walking in place and aerobic to Zumba and kick-box, you will find something to suit your mood and fitness level. Even low-impact stuff for people with injuries or sensitive knees. And it is free. So no more excuses, ladies! 🙂

13. Walk and jog inside

In my city, there are places available where you can walk and jog in a building, or on running tracks, safe from the cold. There are even groups going together. Check out what your place has to offer.

14. Cardio machines

I left these as last ones, because I personally don’t use them, but they are valid options, available and easy to hop on for a quick sweat.

That’s it, folks.

These were my tried and true winter cardio ideas and I hope they will help you to keep your body in good working conditions until the nice weather is here again and we all can go walk, run, paddle and bike to out heart’s content!

See you soon!

Livia,

the exercise lover life coach. 🙂

7+1 tips for effective and safe strength training over forty

First of all, set this straight right away: strength training is a must for every women. It is not optional. It is not just for men, or for ladies who go to body building competitions. It is important for every one of us, just regular, everyday women.

Benefits of strength training for women over forty

Strength training builds muscle mass

After 35, we lose about 2 pounds of muscle per year if we have an average, quite sedentary lifestyle. Think about it! That is why older ladies look like they are made of skin and bones. The only way to keep muscles is to use them, to do strength training regularly, every week.

Cross-sectional MRI of thighs of two athletes and a sedentary person. Source of picture: Fitness after 40 by Vonda Wright.
Cross-sectional MRI of thighs of two athletes and a sedentary person. Source of picture: Fitness after 40 by Vonda Wright.

Strength training helps to keep bone mass

Research shows (1) that weights training specifically helpful in preventing osteoporosis, one of the big health risks for women.

Gives nice shape and confidence

After I lose weight, I always get sad boobs and bat wing arms. Specific weight training sets for those areas fill up my skin and make me look okay again within a few months. Same way, strength training shapes butts and legs beautifully, too.

More muscle means more calories burnt

Yep. Muscles burn more calories than other tissues like fat. (2) So the more muscle you have, the more calorie you will burn even when you are resting.

Strength training keeps you, well, strong

Do you do any sports for cardio, like skiing, biking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis or badminton? The good news is, having more muscle will give you more power for your favorite sports, and more confidence to try new ones. Or just give you enough strength to carry and lift those groceries and garden soil bags smiling. 🙂

Tips for strengths training for women over 40

1. Warm up. Always.

Warm up is the best defense against sport injuries and also makes strength training more effective. (3) Do a 10-15 minutes full body cardio warm up every time you exercise. YouTube is a great resource for this, use it.

2. Prepare and learn

Starting anything new means a learning process. Give yourself time and carefully learn how to lift those weights safely. Trainers, YouTube, books, google are out there.

3. Protect your joints with correct position

INFOGRAPHIC-SQUATS
Source: www.rd.com

With weight training, it is very important to be in the correct position for the exercise, otherwise we might hurt ourselves. Always make sure you know how your legs, knees, back, head should be aligned before you start new moves.

During the exercise check your position in the mirror. Some rule of thumbs I try to remember: knees stay behind the toes for squats; don’t arch your back, keep it neutral; look up slightly when doing dead lifts.

If anything hurts other then the burning muscle, stop, check, decrease the weights or do the exercise without the weight.

4. Accommodate to your body’s needs

If you have a weak spot, or old injuries, check with your doctor and look for specific recommendations. It is usually possible to find a safe way to work around these issues. For example, I do side planks instead of front planks or crunches, because I still have a teeny bit of diastasis recti, and I do dead lifts instead of squats, to spare my knees.

5. Try super sets

Yep, I love them. They are effective and keep me organized. Just google ‘upper body super sets’ or whatever you need and there’s tons out there. Or check out The body sculpting bible for women, I use theirs. (Not an affiliate link.)

6. Go until you cannot do one more…

Yeah, if you want to grow your muscles, you have to die there, okay? If you feel you have one more push up in you without falling on your face, do that last one! 🙂

Motivational quote for women

 

7. Increase the length and intensity gradually

It doesn’t make sense and it is not safe to rush strength training. Start with a weight that allows you to do 10-12 repetitions of the same move, rest, then repeat 3 times. Maybe it is the smallest weight available. I started with that one, for sure. 🙂

You have the right size if by the end of 12 reps three times, you are burning and barely able to finish the last moves. But decrease the weight you use if you are only halfway and start using momentum, your legs shake, knees go in, or cannot keep your form, body position, nice and safe.

+1: Get enough protein and water

The sources vary on how much protein they recommend for people doing strength training. Some says 100 grams (4), some says 150 grams (5) for an average size woman. But they agree that it doesn’t have to be right after the workout, it is okay to spread it out evenly throughout the day in 20-25 g chunks with meals. If you want to lose weight, keep carbs on the low side before and after the workout, so you could keep burning fat. And in any case, drink plenty.

These were my two cents on strength training guys, and I ‘d recommend you to add it to your exercise regime. It feels awesome and and have so much benefits!

Good luck!

Livia

P.S.: If you are serious about getting fit this year, join my Facebook group for support and inspiration!

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Disclaimer

As always, I’m not a health care professional, so consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routines, and use common sense.

Resources

1.: https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/women-need-to-lift-more

2.: https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/8-ways-to-burn-calories-and-fight-fat

3.: https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/light-cardio-warm-up-best-before-strength-work

4.: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-shake-before-or-after-workout#anabolic-window

5.: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19982208/food-rules-for-strength-training/

View story at Medium.com

7 great quotes for new year’s resolutions

Did you make a New Years Resolution? I did. A small one. I promised myself I will do something every night that helps me to relax and recharge. If I skip this, like I did in October and November, I get anxious, I can’t sleep and I’m not productive at all. Not worth it.

So if you made a resolution, kuddos to you! You want to do something about your life! Keep working for it, do your baby steps for your goals and you will get there.

perseverance-quote2.jpg

 

Whatever beginning goals you set for yourself, following through on them will build momentum and a sense of achievement and those small successes will point the way to bigger ones.

Pamela Glass Kelly

 

Most people work hard and spend their health trying to achieve wealth. Then they retire and spend their wealth trying to get back their health.

Kevin Gianni

 

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. … I have never in my life envied a human who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

Theodore Roosevelt

 

Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.

Julie Andrews

 

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance, and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

Marie Curie

 

All successful people, men and women, are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.

Brian Tracy

 

Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.

Paulo Cuelho

And and extra one for a laugh. In case your new year’s resolution involves something not much fun. 🙂

frog_quote2

Take care,

Livia

How to stop procrastinating in 3 easy steps

An easy, three-steps method to tackle procrastination on a specific project.

I realized that I was procrastinating big time about writing a blog post when I started to detail-clean our budgies’ water container with dozens of cotton swabs.

Your trick maybe organizing your closet or your inbox that was messy for years but now cannot wait another day.

Or maybe re-watching all the episodes of your favorite show …

Or keeping yourself so busy with urgent stuff that you literally don’t have a minute to spare.

But procrastination probably has some bad effects on you…

  • Tons of stress
  • Missed deadlines
  • Damaged professional reputation
  • Lost opportunities
  • Disappointing your boss and others
  • Feeling bad about yourself

And some projects just need to be done. Now.

In this post I’d like to give you quick 3 steps to help you with that. Get that job done.

Step 1: Find your motives

Find your reasons for procrastination

Think about your project and start writing down your feelings and problems about it. Check what makes you resistant. It can be a lot of different stuff. Some examples to get you started:

  • It would take long time to finish.
  • You are worried about the end results… maybe your work will not be good enough.
  • You want to make it perfect so you want to do some more research.
  • There are tons of options to choose from.
  • You feel overwhelmed by other things in your life.
  • This is new territory for you, it requires a lot of learning.
  • This project is boring.
  • This whole thing is irrelevant to you personally, it was just pushed on you.
  • There are others involved and teamwork is not going smoothly.

Be as specific as possible, okay? Then highlight the top 3 reasons that have prevented you taking action this week.

Find your reasons for acting now

Okay, here comes the other side. I want you to imagine that you have finished your project yesterday and all went well. Hooray! You are done, you can move on, that heavy weight is off your back.

How do you feel? What are the benefits you got because you have finished your project? Write them down.

Some examples could be:

  • Feeling relieved.
  • Feeling less stressed or rushed.
  • Feeling proud because you worked through the challenging parts.
  • Getting appreciation from people close to you.
  • Maybe you saved money or time.
  • You can clean up the mess after the project and enjoy your space again, either real or virtual.
  • You can enjoy the end results of the project.

Now highlight the 3 most important benefits and keep them in mind.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a goal for this project

I want you to write a goal that is specific, measurable, realistic, motivating and has a deadline. You can use this goal formula or create your own:

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Add your action steps

Now go back to step 1 and revise your obstacles. See if any other came to your mind and write those down, too. Number your obstacles.

Now for every single obstacle, write down what you will do about them. Action steps, baby.

For example, if your obstacle was that you have no clue how to do a specific task in your project, figure out how to learn it. Who can help? YouTube, a coworker, a book, your teenager? Your action step is that you set a date when you get access to your helper and do the learning.

  • Obstacle 1: I don’t know how to…
  • Action step: I will google it tomorrow after work and try it a few times. Also, I will ask X the day after to check if I’m doing it right so I won’t be worried about it.

You need to keep writing action steps until you are confident that you dealt with all your obstacles and ready to start working. You can do it!

Side note on certain obstacles

Sometimes our obstacles are actually not in real world, only in our heads. It happens to all of us I think.

  • Doubts if we can do it at all,
  • worries that the results are not going to be good enough,
  • that we cannot find the perfect solution,
  • we only have one option and we hate that so why bother,
  • feeling that it is not worth trying because it will all turn out badly anyway,
  • and even if we finish on time no one will ever appreciate our work.

If it sounds familiar to you, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, these obstacles are the hardest to fight. They are our hardwired reactions we learnt ages ago. Perfectionism, self-doubt, negativity… Again, most of us have them to some extent.

The good news is, we can still change them. It is doable.

Sure it’s not going to happen in a week. But if you can get help from a therapist or life coach, you can definitely decrease their affect on your life. So don’t give up! You don’t have to listen to these depressing voices in your head for the rest of your days.

Step 3: Be accountable

The last step is to pair up with someone.

  1. Get hold of a good friend, family member, supportive co-worker or a life coach.
  2. Let him/her know about your goal and action steps.
  3. Come to an agreement that you will keep them posted on your progress.
  4. Be specific! Decide together how often and what way you will report to them, i.e. by email, on every Friday until the project is done.

And this is it. A three steps method to take control of your procrastination.

Give it a try on a project that seems difficult but manageable, and can be finished in a week or two.

Takeaway

Step 1: Find your motives

Look at what is holding you back and what will motivate you to start working.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a specific goal with a deadline and add your action steps.

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Step 3: Be accountable

Find someone who will help you stay on track by expecting you to send progress reports to them.

Download a StopProcrastinatingAndFinishTheProjectWorksheet for this 3 steps method.

Take care,

Livia, life coach in Calgary

 

What career should I choose: 3 simple questions to get you closer to your dream profession

What career should I choose? Not an easy question.

There’s a lot at stake… Taking courses costs time and money, and what if we end up not liking that career at all?

Maybe you work long hours, quite bored with your job, and wait for the weekend to feel alive? Or you’ve been at home with kids for years and now have no career left? Or just starting out not sure which career path is the best for you?

If this is your situation, keep reading.

We all would like to be engaged at work, enjoy what we are doing, use our best skills and have work-life balance. It is not a luxury, it is the only way that leads to a happy, healthy life I believe.

And it’s not a Millennial talking, I’m a Gen X mom. I just happen to have a midlife crisis that tells me every day that life is too short. 🙂

I’m going to ask you three questions to gather all the information for choosing a personally suitable career.

Three attributes of a great career choice

Money. More money. Even more money?

Nope.

The best career path for every one of us can be describe like this:

  1. We get to do what we love to do.
  2. We are very interested in topics we need to deal with.
  3. We can use the strengths of your personality at work.

Choose career visualization

Source of picture: roadtripnation.com

Are you ready? Grab a notebook or open a doc and let’s get started.

Career question 1: What do you love to do?

If you work in a field that is very interesting to you, you won’t mind the learning curve, the long hours, the low initial pay. The whole thing is just so captivating for you, you will think about it and jot down ideas at 3 am.

So what do you like to do so much you miss it if you can’t do it? You cannot imagine your life without it. Think general categories here, okay?

  • Working with people?
  • Teaching? Mentoring?
  • Working alone in peace?
  • Creating something from scratch?
  • Designing something cool?
  • Learning something new?
  • Planning?
  • Doing research?
  • Writing?
  • Moving, walking, dancing, using your body?
  • Being outside?
  • Your ideas come here…

Write down one.

What? Only one? Yes.

But how do I pick one if you love to do three different kind from that list at least? Which one is THE ONE?

Okay, pick the top three for now.

For example, for me, it was working with people, learning, planning and moving, exercising. I felt stuck… How am I suppose to choose one?

I thought about it for a while, and watched myself during the day. Then I realized that I feel depressed and low on energy if I cannot connect with people. I love to do all the other three as well, but if I had to pick one, I missed building connections with others the most.

And vice versa, if I had the change to talk to someone deeply and felt the connection, it energized me, made my day.

What is yours? What makes you feel alive? What do you miss so terribly you go out of your way to have a chance to do it?

Write it down with big letters.

Career question 2: What fields are you interested in?

At this point, think about school subjects, niche websites and library sections. What topic do you always end up reading about? Or googling it, or watching TED talks about it, or discussing it with another enthusiast… Are you the go-to person for friends and family about which

Some ideas:

  • Environment, nature
  • Technology, latest gadgets
  • Sciences
  • Arts
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Medicine
  • Food
  • Humanities
  • Animals
  • Psychology
  • Music
  • Your fav comes here…

Pick two of your absolute favorites and write them down.

Very neat and visual help with these first two questions on roadtripnation.com.

Career question 3: What are your personal strengths?

We all realize by a certain age, that we are naturally more talented in some areas and less in others. I am quite good working with people, but struggle when I have to deal with tons of details.

Ideally, you would like to have a job where you can use your talents a lot, and rarely need to depend on skills that just don’t come easily for you.

For the next exercise you need to

Do you happen to know what your Briggs-Meyers personality type is? There’s no need to fill out the questionnaire then, just go straight to your type on the 16personalities.com website and read the part about work.

In the book, read the chapter about your personality. It gives you, among other useful stuff:

  • three detailed career case studies, one of a Millennial,
  • long list of professions that could be a good match for your, sorted by industry and
  • a short ten bullet point description about what makes your type happy in their professional life. (Sure hit the nail on the head for me with this one!)

I know it is a trouble to get a real book and read about 10 pages in it, but trust me, it will worth it.

It can help you not to choose a profession that would make you unhappy for the rest of your career.

Brainstorming time!

Congratulations! You have collected some of the most important ingredients to cook up your dream career. You know

  • what you love to do the most,
  • which topics are your favorites,
  • what kind of professions match your personality and use your strengths.

Now it is time to get creative. Try to forget about family pressure, or others expectations about what you should do. Focus on your answers to these questions.

Mix and match, brainstorm ideas where you can do what you love, in fields you’re interested in, using your strengths.

Keep thinking, fill up some pages, let this topic float around in your head for a few weeks.

For ideas, inspiration, quotes and stories, you can go back to roadtripnation.com or check out their pretty cool book.

If you have some candidates, google a website form your country with detailed information about the chosen profession. Here’s my home province, Alberta’s Occupation Guide.

Okay, this is ended up being a pretty long post. I hope you guys found it helpful.

Choosing a great career is not something we can do in a day or two, but well worth the time and mental energy spent on it, because it can help you finding a work you love most of the time.

As always, you can ask questions and share your answers with us in the comments below!

Have fun,

Livia,

life coach in training

PS: BTW, you can even use this process if you are searching for a solopreneur business idea. That’s what I did, anyway. 🙂

 

 

 

7 stress management tips for a relaxing family vacation

I have three kids. ‘Relaxing’ and ‘family vacation’ just doesn’t go in the same sentence for me. I loooong to go somewhere to see the world but having to drag three troublemakers with me… Well, it puts lots of stress and worry to my vacation week, to say the least.

If you feel the same, and would like to enjoy this happy time together this year, read on for my favorite tricks.

Tip 1: Organize just enough

Whenever we are traveling, I can’t sleep for two weeks beforehand. I worry that I forget something, I write memos for myself at 3 am, I’m thinking of ‘What if…’ scenarios… I’m excited but very, very anxious as well.

Cover the most important stuff but don’t drive yourself crazy! Everyone is different, so adjust this tip to your habits. I write one list of what we need to bring, and one for what needs to be done before vacation.

Must-haves to bring:

  • passports, visas, etc. (if applicable)
  • prescription medicines, first aid kit
  • bathroom stuff, depending on your accomodations
  • ziplock bags if flying
  • clothes
  • favorite stuffies
  • entertainment for the trip/flight
  • food for the road
  • camping gear

Must haves to do:

  • get vaccinations (if applicable)
  • book tickets, accomodation
  • get the car checked before road trip
  • find a house-sitter/give key to neighbour
  • find a pet-sitter
  • cancel newspaper delivery
  • unplug/lock garage door opener
  • turn off/ close everything

Tip 2: Let go of the idea of perfect vacation

There will be stuff forgotten. Mistake made. Feelings hurt. Money lost. Time wasted. Stop worrying about how to prevent it. Do your basic planning, use common sense and relax. Summer holiday doesn’t need to be perfect to be fun and memorable. 🙂

(Did I tell you about the day when my husband thought chocolate ice cream would cure my son’s stomach ache and the three year old threw up chocolate all over the rental car? Well, it wasn’t fun but sure it was memorable. 🙂 )

Tip 3: Watch your kids’ triggers, and your owns

When on holiday, we are out of routine, out of place, in a hurry. Add some jet leg and not enough sleep, and we have some cranky little people on our hands.

To avoid huge meltdowns, be mindful of your kids’ triggers and step in on time:

  • Count transitions: getting out of the car is one. Getting back in, that’s two. It depends on the kids, but my mine usually tolerate maybe four, and then want to be left alone, explore the world freely.
  • Try have them enough sleep, no more than a few hours less than their usual amount.
  • Be aware of noise, crowds, visual clutter. If your child is sensitive, these can overwhelm them easily, leading to meltdown. Offer a calming activity in a quiet place. Even in the middle of Disneyland, my daughter and I managed to find a closed-off spot under a tree, had a long lunch just ‘people watching’. Half an hour and she was ready for excitement again.

And let’s face it, we all have triggers, too. Try to keep them in mind when planning your days, and don’t push yourself too hard. Ask the other grown-up to give you a break, if you feel you will lose it.

Tip 4: Basic physical needs: food, water, layers

Give us the most beautiful places on earth, but if the basics are missing, we become grumpy. Or maybe it’s just us, but when my kids get hungry, they start whining, lying down on the ground and the like.

  • Pack filling, no-sugary snacks for hikes and long trips. The stuff available at pit stops or on airplanes are usually… well… you’ve seen it.
  • Don’t forget water! Not drinking enough can give us pretty bad headaches by the end of the day.
  • Have hats and lightweight layers at hand for places with moody weather. Out at the sea or in caves you need actual warm sweaters!

Tip 5: Be there

So you have paid a big chunk of money to finally get away and have fun. But your mind is still cluttered with work problems and your phone keeps you busy.

Pretend this is your last vacation. Really. The kids will grow up in no time and never be this close to you again. Just look around as if this is your last day on earth. Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells. Every now and then take a few deep breath and get back to the here and now. Soak it in. Burn it in your memory. Enjoy.

Tip 6: Face reality as a grown up

Let’s face it, we get pissed off when life is not going our way. Beach day and it’s raining. Lovely vacation and the kids start throwing up the third night. Our favorite place we always eat at is totally jam packed. Everything is beautiful and the damn kid is screaming. Shit happens and we find ourselves all upset, in a bad mood, grumpy like a teenager who cannot do what he wants. I’ve been there. It is hard.

Recently I was able to change my attitude about these things a bit. In about 30 percent of the time, okay? Still working on it, but the key is this:

Give up all hope to the alternatives to the present moment.

Pema Chodron – When things fall apart

There are times when we just cannot fix it. Period. We are better off accepting the bad news as is and moving on with our lives. Trust me. This little advice made a huge difference in my life lately. Give it a try when life throws you a lemon tomorrow.

Tip 7: Add something fun just for yourself

Be selfish here and try to carve out a few hours for something you love. A massage, a good swim, lying in the sun alone, or a chance to draw some quick city-scapes in your sketchbook… Whatever it is, make a deal with the family and have your own little getaway. It will make you smile again. 🙂

That’s it, folks. I hope I could help make your next vacation a bit more relaxing. Leave your favorite tips or fun holiday disasters in the comments below! 🙂

Have fun,

Livia

Three easy ways to work on your goals and enjoy summer, too

Summer is short. Use my tips to make the most of it, every day.

Water, sunshine, summer breeze. And work.

Good match? Not really.

But I got into a new habit this month:

I take my kids to the outdoor pool, have a good swim then I lay down on the grass and catch up on my business reading or write a blog post. (Disclaimer: My kids are older than eight and very good, level 4 and 5 swimmers.)

I take turns relaxing and working a bit, and generally I’m having a good time, almost as much when my parents took us to the pool as kids.

So my advice to all of you: Don’t wait for your vacation week, enjoy summer every day!

Three tips for a great long summer

Get out of the house every single day

Summer is short. It may feels never ending with the kids out of school but in a few short weeks it will be cold and dark again. So throw the remote away, leave your phone on charger and go outside. Suppose you are at home by six, you have at least three beautiful summer evening hours to enjoy outside.

Goals supported

  • Get stress-relief 
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Live more healthy
  • Practice mindfulness

Don’t tell me none of those were your goals! I won’t believe you. 🙂

Ten quick, easy and cheap things to do outside on weeknights

  • Walk in the park or in a nice neighborhood.
  • Invite a friend for a jog.
  • Eat breakfast/dinner out on the deck.
  • Play Frisbee in front of your house. 
  • Take the neighbor’s dogs for a walk.
  • Go for a lazy bike ride.
  • Go for a quick dip. Outdoor pools are open till 8:00 pm. (Keep essentials packed in a big bag all summer. That’s what I do, and I just add fresh beach towels, swimsuits and water bottles quickly.)
  • Set up a reading spot outside (chair, cushion, coffee table) and do your reading there.
  • Sit at a coffee shop with a terrace.
  • Go down to the beach/bay/riverside if you are lucky and have one!

Eat light

Who wants to steam in the kitchen or wait for an order at a crowded eatery when you can relax outside?

Time-saving tips for summer

  • Eat Mediterranean. Little pan-roasted chicken or fish and salads with avocado and leftover rice.
  • Marinade one bigger batch of meat and you can prepare them in ten minutes when you need to.
  • Same with rice.
  • Mix and match salads: keep some greens, toppings and dressings at hand, that way you will easily put some crunchy health bowl together in five minutes.
  • Shawarmas, tortillas, tacos and the like. Quick and easy, and always different.
  • Try stir-fries. Nina Simonds in Simple Asian Meals have a handy one-page cheat sheet for healthy stir fries.
  • Fruits. Fruits and nuts.

Goals supported

  • Eat healthy
  • Save money
  • Save time
  • Lose weight

Forget 80 percent of your To Do List

I mean it. Just look at your to do list. If it is in your head, write it down. I wait for you.

Now pick the top one or two that makes the most impact on your life. Think matter of life and death.

(If you have ten on your list, pick two. Fifteen, pick three. More than fifteen? Get some help, girl!)

Do them first thing in the morning.

Okay, you can have your coffee or tea then go and finish them off.

Delegate or postpone the rest. 

They can wait until the rain and cold comes in November. It will come and you will have nothing better to do. Stupid chores don’t go anywhere. 

Goals achieved

  • Laser focus on priorities
  • uncluttered life
  • Get stress-relief

That’s it. This is my advice for you folks. Enjoy your life in the sunshine, the warm weather, no snow pants… Go Californian for a bit, for goodness sake! Winter will catch up on us way too soon!

What is your favorite trick to carve out more summer fr yourself? Share it with us in the comments below! 🙂

Take care,

Livia

 

Why get a coach?

Three benefits you will immediately get when you are coached, even just for a few times:

  • coaching clarifies your situation,
  • it moves you forward,
  • it boosts your confidence.

How coaching works in real life?

Let me give you an example.

About a week ago I totally freaked out. ‘I will never make this business work! How could I? I’m an immigrant stay-at-home mom with nothing but a long-expired university degree from abroad!’

My trigger was a nice chat with a lovely other beginner coach lady, who happen to have

  • tons of work experience in other fields,
  • lots of connections with well-off people and
  • great ol’ self-confidence, heaps of it.

And I have none of these. 🙁

So I called my coach friend and asked for an appointment. We worked for a good hour. By the end, I realized what my block was, I knew what to do next, and most of all, I felt confident that I can absolutely do it.

So I started working again and in a week I finished three important jobs necessary to grow my business. Yay! 🙂

Lesson I learnt: we see the world through our lenses. And sometimes we get stuck not as a result of real blocks… But because of our false views… created by our distorting lenses.

If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.

Edward de Bono

So what a coach can do for you?

Coaching helps to clarify your situation

What’s on this picture?

close up photo of pavement

An everyday thing, but hard to tell at first on a close-up photo, right?

Same with our lives. We look at it from so close, we can miss parts of the picture. We can’t see the forest from the trees.

  • What is blocking me?
  • Why am I stuck?
  • What preconceptions, prejudices I have that narrow down my view of the situation?

Coaches can give us a new perspective as they paraphrase, ask great open questions or describe our position with big pic metaphors. Expect to have big ‘AHA!’ moments! A whole new array of possibilities can open up when the fog clears in front of us.

Coaching moves you forward

Have you ever noticed that you are running around in circles, very busy but you are not making any progress? (That’s me and my marketing efforts, hahaha!)

Great coaches can help you to stop, breath, and

  • focus on your goals,
  • decide on your priorities,
  • brainstorm for ideas,
  • choose what is the next step to do right now and
  • stay accountable.

The result: as you go back to work, you will not waste your time and efforts on peripheral things, instead, you make progress where it matters the most. So you get more bang for your buck. 🙂

Coaching gives you confidence

During our coaching session, my coach helped me to realize, that

  • I had a successful small business before so I have business experience I can apply now,
  • I already have coaching skills
  • I do have a network of people, maybe not a very big network but it exists.

So when you work with a coach, they will help you to see:

  • what are your strengths you can use here and now,
  • what experiences you have related to this,
  • what kind of similar problems you solved before.

Coaching can make a difference in a few sessions

There are situations when talking to a coach just a few times can give you instant results, saving time, headaches, and probably some money, too. Take a look at the examples in the chart below:

Your situation The problem Assistance from life coach
You are ready to lose weight, quit a bad habit, or finish a never ending project,   but you tried and gave up before a few times. A coach can help you to use your experiences from the past attempts to finally conquer the beast this time.

Plus every benefit I mention in this post before. 🙂

You have a goal close to your heart but it is several obstacles away, that might need a detailed long-term plan to reach. Your life coach will know the best goal setting methods for your situation.

Also can help to brainstorm new ways to tackle the obstacles.

You need to make a major decision, and it has a deadline

and affects other people. like family members.

A life coach can help you think it out loud, check your priorities, consider pros and cons.

Plus teaches you professional decision making tools most people never even heard of.

 

Takeaway

Working with a coach for even a few sessions can give you these immediate benefits:

  • You will see your situation clearer.
  • You will know what to do next.
  • You will have confidence doing it.

Ready, set, go! 🙂

Livia

PS: What are your goals to work for? Let me know in the comments below!

What are the signs of midlife crisis and other questions

I am, undoubtedly, in a middle of a midlife crisis. Big time. Let me share with you guys what I’ve learnt so far about this tornado. But first, let’s see if you show the symptoms of a midlife transition.

Signs of midlife crisis (for women)

Ever wondered, ‘Do I have a midlife crisis’?’ Well, answer the following questions with yes or no to see.

  1. Does ‘I’m going to die one day’ pop up in your thoughts at least once a week?
  2. Do you feel strangely not so content with your life lately, although it is just the same as it was before?
  3. Are you fed up with things and you feel you can’t put up with them anymore?
  4. Do you feel yearnings towards things you used to love but had to miss out on, because you never had the time?
  5. Are you reading self-help books regularly?
  6. Have you started exercising or will start it tomorrow?
  7. Have you taken courses to learn something new?
  8. Have you changed something major about your life lately? Career, marriage, hobbies…
  9. Are you preparing to make big changes in the near future?
  10. Can you relate to one or more of the midlife crisis archetypes on the following infographic?

Infographic about female midlife crisis archetypes

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have a midlife crisis. If you answered yes to more than half the questions, you are in the middle of the storm! Keep reading for a safe sail.

What is a midlife crisis?

Midlife crisis is a phase in life that

“brings traits, needs or desires that have been ignored or repressed roaring back on center stage in one’s personality”

writes Sue Shellenbarger, author of The breaking point – How female midlife crisis is transforming today’s women.

Midlife crisis can start anywhere between 35 and 52, an average, around 42.

Why does midlife crisis happen?

Because at middle age, we realize that we are getting older and will die soon. Who likes that thought? Nobody, but we have to accept it and deal with it. We have a deadline, and if we want to achieve something we better get working for it. That urgency, that push and motivation to improve our lives, fill in the gaps, find what’s missing – that is midlife crisis.

Who goes through midlife crisis?

About 1/3 of people have midlife crisis, both among men and women. There are certain factors that can make somebody ‘hardwired for crisis’, being high risk, according to Shellenbarger’s research:

  • People with unfulfilling or all-consuming careers
  • People with stall, unhappy or abusive marriages
  • Women who sacrificed everything for their family and never had a chance to pursuit their own goals
  • People who postponed renewing their lives, and just survived and bottled up their frustration
  • People with difficult childhood
  • People with depression*

Can we avoid or prevent women’s midlife crisis?

In my personal opinion, no. We can try to achieve as balanced a life as we can in our 20s and 30s, joggling roles, and apparently that will lower the odds of a disruptive, turbulent crisis in the 40s and 50s. But honestly, who has time for that? I barely had time to breath and take a shower at that time. 🙂 I literally cannot remember my 30th birthday, for example. I’m 41 now, so I had to have it, but I have no memories of it. 🙂

What are the benefits of midlife crisis?

The motivation. The risk taking. Our willingness to get off the couch and do something about what makes us unhappy and discontented.

According to two long-term studies, the decisions we make at midlife can significantly improve our chances for happiness later.

 

Choices women made at midlife - graph based on two long-term studies

What to do about midlife crisis?

Do something. Not completely without planning and rational thinking, but really do something.

Why? As you can see on the chart above, people who decided not to do anything, were significantly more unhappy later than the others. According to the studies made at the University of Michigan and at Radcliffe Collage, ‘ these women were the unhappiest of all at the next round of interviews. They suffered lower well-being, more depression, and a feeling of being less effective in life’.**

Women may go through their midlife crisis changes with different speed or potency, says S. Shellenbarger.

Sue Shellenbarger, graph based on women's midlife crisis modes or pathways

Some make significant changes, creating some heat and smoke in the process, hahaha, and improve their lives on the long haul. (See Sonic Boom, Moderate and Meltdown)

Some try, maybe a bit hastily, or hesitating too much, and have a little success. (Flameout, Slow Burn)

And some of us don’t even try, out of fear of losing everything. (Non-Starter)

Best way to deal with women midlife crisis

Find out your midlife crisis archetype

Being aware of your type should give you some direction of where to turn, what areas to work on in midlife. Based on your archetype, a good first step maybe

  • save up and travel, or find new sports to try (The Adventurer)
  • open up your heart and get meaningful relationships (The Lover)
  • give yourself a permission to build that business, that legacy you feel so passionate about (The Leader)
  • find the time and resources to rekindle your love for arts and create something (The Artist)
  • surround yourself with worthy people and make a difference in their lives, in your home, garden and community (The Gardener)
  • reach out to spiritual leaders to find your path, the meaning of life, either in person or through books and videos (The Seeker)

Learn from other’s stories

It is wise to seek the company of older women who has been through midlife crisis some time ago. They can share their memories with us, and we can learn from their choices. Shellenbarger says that decades later the only ones with overwhelming regrets are the Non-Starters.

‘The biggest mistake, it seems, is not having a midlife crisis at all.”

Find a support group

No one can understand you as much as another women struggling with midlife crisis. If you can, reach out and find them for support and understanding.

Work on life skills

According to research***, those who successful in making positive changes in midlife:

  • Focus more on the positive events in life, rather then on negative ones
  • Have higher degree of life competencies such as communication, relationship skills or work skills

So it is never too late to work on these important skills.

Get a life coach

In midlife we long for a change, simply being tired of the same old job, same old life or taking care of family without a break…

A life coach can help us to use the motivation of our midlife crisis to achieve what we are yearning for in order to eventually have inner peace and a more fulfilled life.

Takeaway about midlife crisis in women

  1. Be aware of it.
  2. Think about it, talk about it.
  3. Do something. Take some risks.
  4. Live happily ever after.

Contact me if you would like to talk about midlife with a safe, nonjudgmental person.

Take care!

Livia

Sources

*R. C. Kessler, K. A. McGonagle, M. Swartz, et. al., “Sex and Depression in the National Comorbidity Survey, in Journal of Affective Disorders 29 (October-November 1993): 85-96.

**Jutta Heckhausen, “Adaptation and Resilience in Midlife,” in Handbook of Midlife Development, ed. Lachman, pp 354-55.

***Carol Magai and Beth Halpern, “Emotional Development During the Middle Years,” in Handbook of Midlife Development, ed. Margie E. Lachman, pp 333-34.

S. Shellenbarger, “The breaking point – How female midlife crisis is transforming today’s women” Henry Holt and Company, 2004