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We live in a society where constant running around, long commutes, and doctors appointments during your lunch hour are a light day. Whether it is in Westchester NY or NYC, our society connects work meetings until 11pm as signs of success, plans with friends 5 nights a week as popular, and being busy, busy, busy as a means to our self worth. Being “busy” can make you feel important, validate you in your career, or make you feel sought after, but mostly it is taking away from what actually makes you feel good.
If you are on the go nonstop, you do not give your mind and body the necessary down time to decompress. Without this down time, you are floating through your day never really giving 100 percent to the people you see, the project you are doing, or the meetings you attend. You adding on 3 extra Starbucks in your day isn’t healthy or balanced living, it is more or less skimming the surface. Your life should be more about fulfillment rather then a filled schedule.
Let’s take a look at 6 ways to put a stop to the non stop:
1. Change how you view down time. Relaxing, resting, or whatever you do at home is extremely valuable. It doesn’t mean you are lazy, boring, anti social, or unsuccessful, it simply means you value your ability to be 100 percent, and in order to do so you need to decompress. This does not mean you need to sit in a quiet room and stare at the walls, it means do the things that allow your mind and body to relax.
2. Just say no. Don’t overbook yourself. If Susie and Janet have been asking you to do happy hour for the past 2 weeks, this does not oblige you to have to go if you are working and haven’t seen your husband in a couple of days. Your closest friendships will remain close to you regardless of how many happy hours you go to, and if there is a rift due to this, chances are the friendship wasn’t going to last anyway. Have meaningful outings every few months, and skip the “I have to show face” ones. If you are someone who is passionate about a variety of things, don’t enroll in tennis lessons, cooking lessons, writing classes, and scuba diving all in the same month. Pick one hobby to focus on at a time, and master it. If you lose interest, it is time to try something else.
3. Stop comparing your choices to others. Just because your cousin Roy is working every night until 10pm doesn’t mean you should feel bad about yourself when you come home by 5. Quality time in relationships, even the relationship with yourself, is what is going to ultimately add to your self-worth.
4. Leave work at work. Now I know this is easier to do for those of us who do not have to bring work home, but as soon as you are done with work, let it go. Sitting and worrying about the big meeting on Thursday, or the email you did not send is keeping you at “work” so allow yourself the time to separate and relax.
5. Re-prioritize your schedule. Look, most of us feel we should be doing the opposite aka the grass is always greener concept. This especially applies to parents, many times Mothers who feel guilty being home and feel guilty working (lose, lose). Find the right balance for you that allows you to spend quality, connected time to your family. If you current schedule just isn’t working, try to figure out what changes you can make to feel more content.
6. Schedule in some down time. If you are having a hard time not booking yourself up all weekend, try scheduling some down time. For instance if you notice you have a wedding this Saturday, use Friday as a night to stay in and take a breather, and literally write it down in your calendar. When someone asks you to hang, tell them you can’t and stick to your down time appointment.
7. Pay attention to your attention. Go through your day and notice the times that you are having a hard time connecting. Is it at work? With your family? Whatever it is, this is an indicator that you are imbalanced. The goal is you will be much more productive at work, or at home, or in general, if you give yourself a bit of a break. Don’t feel guilty about cutting out some work hours, or hiring a babysitter once a week, in the long run it will help you stay present and more connected to what you are doing and who you are with.
Now take a deep breath… do you feel lighter already? Remind yourself that living a happy and fulfilled life is your goal, not a busy life. Do the things that mean the most, and cut out the nonsense.
How to bring out the best in your partner!
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT in Westchester, New York
Healthy relationships consist of two people who are capable of working on themselves in order to make the relationship prosper. This seems to get many of us in tough situations, as it has become very natural to blame the other person for just about everything. This leads to various cycles and patterns that are unhealthy and unsatisfying. Want to make a change? Take a look at a list of 10 ways to bring out the best in your partner:
1. Support their dreams & goals in life. Wherever your partner is with their life goals, make sure that you support them. Dreams are difficult enough to accomplish, but the journey of our dreams are what makes us individuals and many times, quite fulfilled, so make sure that you are supportive. If the goal or journey is taking over your relationship follow step number 2.
2. Be assertive. When you are upset about something, do not let your emotions get the best of you. Some people will be passive and not speak up which can lead to anxiety and depression, while others approach aggressively by screaming or reacting, which will always leave your partner defensive and you unheard. Instead, work on being assertive, using those good old “I” statements, and see if you both can work together towards a solution.
3. Allow them to have hobbies, friends, and their own life. You do not want you or your partner to lose their individual self because they are now in a relationship. Therefore, when you partner is pursuing a hobby, or having a girls night, make sure you are not standing in their way. If you notice that you have a hard time with this step, this is a time for self reflection and potentially your moment to reach out and work on your individual self.
4. Be verbal with your appreciation. Do not fall into the trap of only speaking up when he did not take out the garbage, make sure that you also notice when he does. If she takes the time to cook, even if it is every night, take the time to thank her for it. Verbal reassurance and appreciation goes a long way and it doesn’t have to be anything more then “thanks for dinner tonight it was awesome”.
5. Stay connected physically. Take the time to hug, kiss hello, kiss goodnight, cuddle on the couch. Make sure you both are not so busy that you lose the intimacy, as this is what separates you from being in a relationship versus being roommates. If you are noticing a dramatic shift in your sex life, make sure that you value this within your relationship and be proactive at getting it back on track.
6. Plan a date night, their way. Does your girlfriend love ballet? Find a cheap show in NYC and surprise her. Does your husband love history? Take him to the museum. Many times we envision date night as what we want to do, but it is important to invest in the ways your partner can enjoy date night. It is also really fun when you try something totally new together, but plan those dates!
7. Ownership of yourself. This is probably the most important step and the most frequent issue that is worked on in couples therapy. Owning your feelings, emotions, needs, and behaviors does not always come naturally to us. It is much easier to focus on the other person, but this will lead you into a vicious cycle. If you want someone to own what they are doing, it is vital that you own up to your side as well.
8. Be in the now when you have time together and when you have time apart. If you are having a boys night and your wife is calling you every 10 minutes, this is a big no no. If you are having a date night and your boyfriend is text messaging the whole time, this is also a big no no. A deep connection is built on being able to connect with your partner one on one. If you succeed in this step, chances are when you are not together you will feel more secure about it. Work on being content and connected in both scenarios.
9. Work on trust and honesty. Many times couples have issues with trust when there is nothing going on. If you have some insecurities with trust, do not bring them into your relationship, work on them individually. If there is a real problem going on with the trust in your relationship, then looking through his phone is not going to solve it. See step number 2 and work on the problem.
10. Support them during high and low points. This may seem like a given, but you do not want to be there when she is crying but not show support when she lands a promotion. Sometimes we are better at support in one situation over another, but in a successful relationship, you make sure to be supportive in both scenarios.
6 Technology Tips for Parents to do with their children.
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
This is a topic I feel strongly about which is why I wanted to take the time to write a blog about it. In my sessions in Westchester, NY, this comes up 90 % of the time when I am working with families: the generation gap. No, parents and kids do not come in and claim this, but it underlies many, many of the issues that come into my office.
The generation gap, what is it exactly? Well of course there is always a generational gap between parents and their children, but the gap currently going on is one of the biggest ones we have experienced in quite some time. The reason is plain and simple: technology.
This generation’s parents, especially those who are currently raising teenagers, really seem to struggle with understanding their child’s world. Clearly there were no cell phones for parents growing up, but it is so much more then that. They way children socialize now, the way they build their self esteem, the way they bully connects to video games, facebook, instagram, texts, and the list goes on and on.
It poses a whole new issue for parenting, and for this generation, as they are being raised in a world where multitasking is a necessity. For example, when you were 16 and you were fighting with your boyfriend, you had to wait until you saw him to talk about it. Now you can be 16 years old and be participating in a full blown argument with your boyfriend all throughout math class via text. These are technology issues on top of the regular every day issues.
In reality, it is not the child’s fault, because this is the new world we live in. Either we can learn, and teach are children how to manage it, or we can fight against it, and this is where the problems come pouring in.
Being that I do not see our future children ditching our phones and social media, and instead going outside and making mud soup like we did, we need to learn how to live and parent in this current generation. I have had so many sessions where the parents come in and complain and yell to me about all of this technology, and do not really even understand it. They immediately associate it with it being “bad” or “negative”.
Yes, there are so many negatives to this world, but we can not run from it as technology is only going to continue to grow.
So here is how the rest of a session plays out: the parent complains and complains and the teenager completely shuts down, or just says what the parent wants to hear. I then see the teenager on his or her own, and they vent to me about how their mom or dad has no idea what they are talking about. And its true, they don’t, they can’t, because their world was very different.
The problem is, if you completely ban all technology from your child’s life, you are also setting yourself up for a disastrous situation. Why? Because you are trying to force your child to live in your generation versus their own and therefore they will not learn the vital skills needed for this generation. Your job as a parent is to teach and educate, not to shelter.
When you push your generation onto your children, your child will immediately disengage, rolls his or her eyes and stops listening. Kind of like the same way you ignored your parents when they told you they walked to the bus stop with no shoes in the snow.
So now what? Well unfortunately your role as a parent is to bridge the gap or else you can expect to feel disconnected from your child. Thus, when there is disconnect, this leads to other things like earlier sexual activity, over involvement in peers, lower academics, defiance, drug use, etc.
Ok, so how do we fix this? Well here are some tips for parents:
1. Educate yourself. Learn about Facebook, learn about Instagram, learn about whatever your child wants to be on or is currently on. Do not be scared of technology and be willing to learn. If you are not educated you can never educate your chidren. If you are more technology savvy then some parents, it is still a completely different world for your children growing up with it, so really take a moment to think about how life for them is very different compared to being introduced to this stuff in your adult years with your adult knowledge.
2. Discuss all of the positives that come from technology, social media, etc with your child. Have an honest and open conversation about it.If you are able to acknowledge the positves, they won't shut you out as much when you are talking about the negatives.
3. Discuss the things that are inappropriate, harmful, or risky. This can range from pictures, to posts, to comments, to bullying, to sexual predators, etc. Make sure they understand the risks and are aware that if any of these issues come about, they need to tell you immediately. If your child is being bullied online, this is similar to being bullied in person, but different in that people have much more opportunity and guts when it comes to typing something behind a computer. If this is happening, talk about safety, use blocking protection, and address the bullying situation. Do not blame the bullying on social media, focus on the bullying itself.
4. Monitor what your child is doing. It doesn’t matter if he or she is 12 or 18, at whatever age you feel he or she can handle being on websites, etc, make sure he or she is aware that you will be checking in. Make it clear that you are not trying to catch them with stuff, but more to be aware of what is going on so that you can continue an open discussion. Clearly as you gain trust for your child’s judgment, this can happen less and less, but it is important that you are not only discussing verbally what is appropriate, but checking in physically.
5. If you find something inappropriate on a social outlet of your child’s, do not freak out. It is natural to be upset or angry, but control your emotions as a adult, calm down and approach your child assertively. Tell him or her what you saw and that you want to have a conversation about it. The minute you start freaking out, you are teaching your child that it isn’t OK to make mistakes and they will shut you out or try and hide things.
6. Discuss a balance of technology and the outside world. Make rules that no one, including you, can use your phone during family dinner. Make sure that they are aware that they need to learn how to balance social networking and actually being social with friends in person. This is a balance that they will benefit from in the future and is a very good life skill to learn. If a child is texting in class, or technology is interfering with school, again this is about balance. Talk to your child about being responsible with technology; make a plan with him or her about when it is appropriate to do so, and when it is not. You can even go as far as making a schedule. You do not want to immediately take the technology away, again because the lesson here is balance and learning. If this does not work, consequences should be in place in order to set boundaries and teach your child that in order for him or her to have this freedom they need to show that they can stick to the schedule. Let this be a consequence after you have tried a schedule.
These are only some helpful tips for parents, but I assure you that this is one of the biggest factors in creating disconnect between this generations parents and children.
Many times I will have teenagers openly discuss things with me, but not their parents, and I always ask them why. Their response is “my parents freak out, my parents don’t understand, and my parents judge me.”
Of course I explain to them the difference between a therapeutic relationship and a parent/child relationship. But the lesson for parents here is just as sessions aren’t about me, parenting should not be about you. Therapy & parenting are to help the child, so the focus is to do what is best for your child.
Learn how to control your emotional responses, and approach the topic assertively with a level head. Educate yourself about your child’s world instead of being frustrated that they don’t live in yours. You will be amazed at what your child will open up and tell you and the life skills they will learn to become successful adults.
The 11 life lessons from our Pet Therapist Teddy!
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
Ok so if you know me even the tiniest bit, you know I am completely in love with my dog Teddy. He has just been the most amazing little gift to me, and has taught me so much about life, love, and myself.
One random day I came in contact with two month old Teddy, and I instantly fell in love. Besides the fact that he was adorable to look at, his demeanor was incredibly perceptive and unique. He was calm but smart and incredibly silly in a very human type way. Impulsively, I put a down payment on him and was ready to buy him within the next week.
Lesson #1- Trust your gut. I have no idea what made me want to buy HIM. It was not based on some check list; it was based on a strong internal feeling. I love dogs, have held and seen many puppies, but never felt that odd “connection” I guess you would call it, and when I did, I trusted it, and I am so very happy that I did. In your life you are going to come across many people, but only a few will give you that special internal feeling. Whether it is friends or in a relationship, value it, and trust that somewhere deep inside there is a reason why you are connected to certain people.
Lesson #2- Don’t let fear dictate your choices. After my impulsive buy, everyone around me fed me fear. “It’s a lot of responsibility”, “You are going to lose your freedom”, “It’s a lot financially”, “How are you going to take care of him every day?” and so on & so forth. It’s not that everyone was wrong but people were trying to lead my choices based on fear. People frequently do this, and we naturally do this to ourselves. Once you begin to trust your gut, change your mental approach to “I will figure it out as it comes” and don’t allow fear to get in the way. It is common for people to make choices based on their fears, or not make choices for that matter based on fears. But if you allow the “what if’s” and the fears to take over your choices, you will never do anything in this world. Have an understanding of responsibilities, but also have high regards in your ability to handle it and go for it.
Lesson #3- Educate yourself. I didn’t expect just because I know a lot about human relationships, that I would know a thing about raising a dog. So I read. I read about 2-3 books, on raising a dog, on my dogs breed, on dog food, etc. I educated myself and figured out a schedule that would work for both of us. I found out the importance of boundaries, crate training, socializing young, not yelling, positive reinforcement, and how to get dogs to relax when it comes to grooming, bathing, etc. You can be 100 years old, or you can be 5 years old, but you will always have something to learn. Whether it is from a book, a friend, or an experience, learning is something you should continually do to continue to grow. The best “experts” in this world continually educate themseleves.
Lesson #4- Exercise Daily. I exercise, but I have my months where I am on and months when I am off. Taking Teddy for walks every day provides me with mini exercise daily, and fresh air. If I don’t take him to walk, he is wild and misbehaves more and this translated to me that when I exercise I am also more balanced (mentally & physically). Now we both enjoy daily walks, and if I get lazy, him digging my pillow at a rapid rate at midnight is that extra motivator to make sure I get moving. Exercise is proven to create serotonin and regulate chemicals in the brain and body. It is something that will absolutely impact how you feel about yourself, which ends up translating into your life & relationships. Just do it.
Lesson #5- Stop and smell the flowers. Teddy loves smelling flowers, weird? Common? Not sure, but he loves it. In the beginning I was so focused on our walks that I would pull him every time he did this, but then I realized there was some sort of lesson in there. Of course he is a dog and was attracted to the scent, but as a human it was a moment to take in some natural beauty, whether it is flowers, or a sunset, I now take a moment to have a moment.
Lesson#6- Don’t be excessive with food. Teddy will eat, and eat, and eat if I let him. He would have a treat every minute of the day. But in order for me to keep him healthy, I regulate his meals and treats. Yes there are days he gets to finish my ice cream, but in general his overall health is more important then the impulsive whines I get when he wants some extra treat. We have to look at the bigger picture when we eat. Is that satisfaction for 5 minutes really worth a health issue? Your health should always come first, so getting into healthy habits for yourself is as important as the ones you give your pet. Our internal whines can be overlooked when you focus on the bigger picture.
Lesson #7- Don’t create judgment based on one experience. Teddy is a friendly dog; he says hi to everyone and is kind and gentle to every animal. I am happy he is this way, because he is a breeze to bring around any situation. Well one time, Teddy was attacked by a pit bull. He was extremely frightened and hurt, I was petrified, and it was just an overall scary experience. I assumed that he might be hesitant with dogs moving forward, maybe even pitbulls (maybe that would just be me) but I didn’t want this one negative experience to shape him or myself.The next day I brought him back out, around dogs, and he was his same old self. Just recently we were at the dog park, and of course, he chooses to play with two adorable baby pitbulls. A natural reaction of mine was maybe to detour him from doing so, but I took a step back and realized that if we allowed one situation to dictate how we view things, we will live in a pretty judgemental and sheltered world after a while. As a mom I watched on carefully, but they ended up playing and having the best time.
It is very easy to feed into stereotypes and to take one bad experience and forever be judgmental. It is a lot harder to look at the experience, learn from it, but continue to be open. Pitbulls, just as people, are raised in certain ways that lead them to certain lifestyles, give everyone a shot more then once, and you will be surprised how rich your life will be.
Lesson #8- Always be willing to look at yourself. The few issues I had with Teddy’s behavior or potty training were of course frustrating but I always chose to look at what I was doing wrong, or better yet, what I could improve. If I focused on labeling him a “bad” dog, that would just reinforce bad behavior and nothing would get solved. So I paid attention to the messages I was sending, the schedule I made, and made changes. This, in turn, created change in him. Many times we blame & criticize another person, more specifically our partners and the people that we are closest to, but rarely do we look at ourselves and see what we are doing to contribute to the problem. Most importantly, take a look at what you can change that will contribute to a solution.
Lesson #9- Balance. Creating balance is healthy for everyone individual, and everyone’s “balance” is different. I don’t have to be with my dog every minute for him to know I love him. I bring him to camp some days, leave him home some days, and spend time with him some days, etc. I make time for him during the week, but I also make time for myself and don’t feel guilty. Sometimes I want to bring him to camp and have the apartment to myself, to clean, and to just take a moment. I’ve learned that this is ok and healthy for both of us. I love seeing pictures of him happy and enjoying himself with his fellow dog buddies.Creating balance for your will translate into a more balanced self and thus balanced relationships. Whether it is having time to dedicate for you, your passion, your health, make the time. And on the same token, make the time to dedicate to your relationships and your bond so that the days you aren’t together, you will still feel close and bonded. These are the most healthy relationships.
Lesson #10- Don’t create dependence. I don’t depend on that little guy’s constant love to make me happy, and anyone who knows Teddy knows he could be a happy guy anywhere he goes. If I have friends over and he is on my friends lap, or sleeps on top of my sisters head and not mine, it doesn’t the least bit bother me. Because him being well rounded and happy makes me happy, and the dependence factor is non existent. This extends to relationships and children. If you spend quality time, love, and have a bond, do not be threatened if they have friendships, hobbies, or relationships with others. In the end it will create more happiness and health for each individual, and as a partnership. You do not want to make one source or person responsible for your happiness because guess what? You will never be happy.
Lesson #11- Selfless love. Love is the biggest lesson here.The thing that is so unique and special about dogs is that they will give you that love regardless of how you treat them. On the human end of it, we have to make more of an effort. This applies to children, family, and even friends, but that doesn’t mean we are all naturally good at doing this.I make sure every week to schedule in time just so I can bond with Teddy. Whether its walks, dog parks, training, or games, I have taken on the responsibility of having him in my life, and with that are times when showing him this love through my actions is important. He does this naturally, for me and all that’s on my plate its something I have to plan, but regardless it gets done because it is important to me. You can have feelings of love but the way this translates to someone else is through YOUR actions. Take the time out to listen, to bond, to go on a date, to spend quality time, because unlike dogs, people need this in order to give it back.
Lesson #12- Be in the moment. Dogs have this beautiful quality of living in the moment. They are able to greet you like it is the first time they see you every single day. In relationships, we have a much more difficult time being in the moment and remembering to be grateful and not afraid to show it. Take a moment to be in the moment. When your partner or child walks in the door, make sure you great them with a kind and loving way. Don't forget how very imporant this really is.
_________________________________________________________________________________ 18 real life tips for a healthy mind and body!
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
Think you have heard every health tip there is? Well here are some that I use with great success and wanted to share with you. If you can grab one tip in here that will help you personally you are one step closer on your own journey.
1. Self Esteem: Never, ever, ever allow your self esteem or self worth to be based on weight. If you are feeling out of shape, take it as a sign that you need to figure out a new health plan. Do not criticize yourself or allow anyone’s criticism to seep in. If your weight and self esteem tie together it is going to be a very difficult road for you to create balance, and I suggest you make this your first priority. If you cannot seem to do this on your own, I would recommend counseling. This is truly the first step in creating a healthy lifestyle.
2. Attitude: Your attitude shapes everything. Simply feeling bad for yourself will only feed into victim thinking which will lead you to feel powerless. When you feel powerless, you do not make changes. If you put yourself down about how you look, this will lead to hopelessness and will never get you moving or get you on a healthy path. BE HONEST with yourself, and this should simply mean honest in the fact that you have a choice. A choice to either do something different, or learn how to cope with where you are. This is really the choice we have with all life decisions, and being healthy is no different. If you are really having a hard time feeling comfortable with your current weight or your health is in jeopardy, and then make a plan for yourself. Remember YOU have the power to make changes with anything in your life that you are unhappy about, even if it is hard.
3. Pants instead of Scales: I would not recommend weighing yourself daily. The reason being is, you should not allow your health and happiness to revolve around a number. Scales are like test grades, the number becomes more important versus what you actually learn. Take the test grade away, and you might actually care about the learning. Same with scales, take the number away and you might start focusing more on your health. So how do you monitor your weight without a scale every day? Pants. I even have one particular pair of pants that really lets me know where I stand. When they start to get snug, I take note and dedicate myself to a new routine If my pants are suddenly getting tighter, this is my cue that I have to increase my routine a bit. It is really that simple and effective.
4. Balance: I am not always exactly the same size. I don’t believe most people are, but I know what size I am comfortable with. This means that I am satisfied both mentally and physically. You have to find a size that is right for your body but also right for your mind. This of course may range for your body type and what you are happy with, but pick something where you can still live and treat yourself. Aspire for health, not being a stick figure.
5. Baby steps: Way back when, when I first started exercising, I used to think you needed to go big or go home. I do not feel that way anymore, especially if you are just trying to get back into a routine. We feel good when we accomplish something. If we take the most difficult class on our first day back this can lead us to failure and/or negative feelings. Once you associate negativity with the gym, even more then you may naturally have, it tends to get harder to get there. Start small, start walking, and take a beginners yoga class. Once you build your strength, start to challenge yourself more. You will be surprised how fast this will happen and how good it will feel. You then start to associate these positive feelings with the action of going to the gym which will make it much easier for you to get there.
6. Appointments: I thrive on appointments. My day is appointments. When I get out of my gym routine, I make appointments in order to get back into it. For example, my gym does group training sessions that cost a bit more but are made only by appointment. I will make some appointments for the next few months, and pay for them. This holds me accountable in various ways and when I look at my schedule it is literally in there just as a doctor’s appointment or my clinical appointments are. I don’t think about it, talk myself out of it, I just pack a gym bag and get myself there.
7. Motivation: For me, the hardest part is starting, and actually physically getting myself to the gym. Once I start to associate good feelings with the gym, it begins to become more of a priority for me naturally. Having a positive attitude towards the gym is really important. Every time the little voice in your head tries to convince you otherwise, fight back. Make a list mentally or even physically, of all the benefits you receive from being there. This can include a good night’s sleep, having “me” time, feeling accomplished, and the list can go on & on.
8. Switch it up: I have to switch up what I do. For my mental sanity and for my body to not get too comfortable. I do not just do the same routine every time I go. I challenge myself and my body, and it is fun to try new stuff. There is always one day a week I hit the gym hard, with weights, and squats, and push ups, and every miserable classic exercise there is. Then for the other two days I will take Pilates or yoga or try a Barre classes. These types of classes work your body in a completely different way, and it is important to give variety to your workout. Try spinning or boxing if you get into a cardio rut. I also really enjoy doing my cardio outside when it is warm enough, and this can vary as well. Hiking, walking along the water, running. Sometimes I play basketball, or tennis (and no, I am not athletic per say, it is just to get moving) Finding other fun ways to fit in exercise is extremely important too.
9. Daily routine: Every day I choose to take the stairs. I literally have a battle in my head about it daily, and I always just move my body towards the stairs. This goes for parking far, I associate getting a spot far away as a chance to get a little cardio in.
10. Combos: Have to grocery shop? Hold the little baskets of stuff versus use a cart (unless of course you have a major shopping to do). Cleaning is also a big way I exercise. How? At one point in my life I considered hiring a cleaning lady for my place. Then I realized I could turn this into a mini work out, and save money, so I bought ankle and wrist weights. I literally vacuum and mop with them on. You have no idea how much harder you have to work to clean the house. Even as you are wiping counters. I blast music and I just go at it for a couple of hours, that is my workout for the day, and my house is sparkling. Also, dog walking. I do not know if you have a dog, but I also once considered having a dog walker. Instead I have figured out how to rearrange my schedule so that I can take my pup for a half hour to an hour walk daily. This gives me time to bond with my favorite furry guy and also is an active way to get moving.
11. Food: I love food. Who doesn’t? I eat, but I balance myself. During the week I attempt to cook 3-4x. I am an extremely healthy cook. I use cook books such as cooking light, or modify recipes to make things healthier. I am a big greek yogurt supplementer, I also use coconut oil whenever I can. I am always looking for healthy ways to cook when I am home. I plan meals ahead of time so I have the right ingredients. I use quinoa whenever I can, I make almond chocolate smoothies and put spinach in them (you cannot even taste it). I could probably write a whole section on just my eating, but the bottom line is when I eat home, I am very healthy. I do not keep any unhealthy snacks in my house. Snacks include wheat crackers and laughing cow light swiss cheese, an array of almonds, tuna, and fruit. During the week my meals are focused on health and eating home. When I go out to dinner or brunch on the weekends, or the occasional week day. I am lenient. If I want a burger, I will have one. If I want chicken parmesan or pasta, this is when I treat myself. I will eat McDonalds every once in a while too. I don’t ever hold myself back too much, I just do it once in a while and this is the balance that works for me. If you cut back way too much, it is going to be too difficult to stick to, and that develops into giving up.
12. Treats & Sweets: I keep a jar of peanut m&ms in my house, and also those mini magnum chocolate ice creams. These are my home treats. I also love making pops, I have ice cream pop holders and make pops out of greek yogurt, fat free pudding, fruit, you name it. Hungry girl has awesome desserts too if you want to bake. It is fun and usually they come out very tasty. I am also a fan of those self serve yogurt places, but I always choose the smallest cup or give myself a small amount. I always have a little treat at night, I just try to keep it portion controlled.
13. The little things: I am a dedicated switcher of the little things. What does this mean? I always use skim milk. Always. I always use stevia or truvia in my coffee. I am attempting to steer clear of artificial sweeteners with aspartame, and steer clear of the fat in regular sugar. I choose sweet potatoes instead of regular, wheat instead of white, light iced teas. I use mayo and butter with olive oil. These simple things make a big difference. I also will buy certain foods organically. I enjoy researching food as there is so much we do not know and I try to learn as much as I can. I have the book “eat this, not that” which has a lot of great tips. Sometimes these little things end up truly adding up.
14. Drinks: Of course there are times when alcohol is more dominant in your life, if you drink, for instance in the summer, or vacation. But cutting out that nightly beer or glass of wine can go a long way. I only drink when out or if I am having a special night in, it is not an ongoing thing. At one point it was, and it was relaxing, but it is something I don’t feel is necessary so I stopped. Diet coke is also a favorite of mine and I wish I could write that with all of the negative articles about it that I have cut it out, but I haven’t. I have certainly cut back and am more aware of drinking it. Water, water, water is definitely the key in keeping hydrated, full, and healthy.
15. Health insurance: I am not sure how many know this or not, but you will get a nice reimbursement check from your insurance company if you go to the gym about 50 times in 6 months. This is roughly 2-3x a week. So let that motivate you too, and make sure you are jotting down when you go, might as well cash in for your motivation.
16. Excuses: Do not allow yourself to make excuses. Everyone is busy. Whether you have children or two jobs or a sick parent, you can find time to exercise. It only takes an hour. Figure it out. I literally take out my schedule each week and pick a time DAILY that I can fit gym time in. I go to the gym about 3-4x a week, and go through my week accordingly. That way, the days when something comes up, or when I really just want to relax instead, I will, but knowingly that I have time scheduled daily helps me make these decisions. For instance, having the choice of waking up at 5:00 to go to a class tomorrow morning, or getting motivated to take that afternoon class in an hour is my choice. I weigh the options, and pick one.
17. Priority: If you don’t make your own health a priority, no one will. Your children won’t schedule it in, your husband wont, your friends wont. YOU have to figure out what works for you. Whether it is in the morning, or whether you need to pack a bag and head over right after work so you don’t have a minute to change your mind. Maybe it is with a friend, or by appointments like me. Whatever it is, take the time to figure it out, and make it a priority. The gym is part of my time and my dedication to myself. Sometimes friends or my parents want me to go to dinner and I have an appointment scheduled, and I say no. It is hard, I am honestly saying that, but I keep my dedication. It is my health, my body, and it needs to be my priority.
18. Mood: Exercise has a DRAMATIC impact on your mental health. It releases endorphins and creates more serotonin in the brain. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, exercise should be an even higher priority for you. Remember the way you think, ties into how you feel, and ties into what you do.
Happy being Healthy!
_________________________________________________________________________________ Eliminate Judgement from your life!
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
Published on Girlsguideto.com
In the world of social media and reality television, many of us have become incredibly good at both projecting the “perfect” life and/or judging others for their errors. Think of all those who post on Facebook about their perfect relationships, children, successes, beauty, where they are traveling... Why is our culture so obsessed with the judgment of others? And why do we all fall into it? Should we really believe those who promote that they are living a “perfect” life?
We are developing into a society that thrives off painting pictures of who we should be and trashing those who lose their way. While we are busy focusing on others, we lose sight of ourselves. Ever notice the people who judge the most end up having the most difficult time in life? And why is it that we women end up being the worst to each other knowing all that we women go through?
It's time we stop bashing ourselves and other women as well, with an understanding that not one of us is going to do it perfectly right. Stop talking about those who are still single, those who marry young, those who got divorced, those who should get a divorce, those working moms, those non working moms... The reality is we as a society never stop judging. So now what? At the end of the day you have to live for yourself. If you choose not to judge yourself or allow others to judge your path, you are that much different than the rest of the world.
Here are some tips to help you live your life without the judgment:
1. Follow your heart and your gut.In the very core of our being, we just know what is best for ourselves. Forget the analysis, forget what everyone thinks you should do, follow that little feeling inside that says “yes, this is right” and don’t let anyone’s judgment stop you.
2. Learn from your own mistakes. When you make a mistake, take the time to learn from it instead of beating yourself up over it. Write down your blessings, what you want to change, and what you will not do in the future. This will empower you if you allow it to.
3. Be content with where you are. So many of us are living in the future and living through the hope of change. When you look back 10 years from now, you will wish you appreciated where you are this very moment. Think back to high school; how many of you would take your high school problems back or your high school body back? And did you appreciate it then? Nope. Take the time to appreciate all you have, right now, at this very time in your life.
4. Your relationship status does not define you. Take all the singles; they really want to be settled down. Take the ones who are settled down, they either want to be single or have kids. Take the ones with kids, they really wish they could have alone time. Look, we all have the grass is always greener complex but wherever your situation is, embrace it.
5. Be compassionate. Next time someone angers you, frustrates you, or you turn to judge them – STOP. Take a moment to be compassionate and attempt to understand where they could be coming from. It takes more negative energy to constantly judge and talk about others than coming to peace with the person that cut you off on the road.
6. Don’t live in other people’s fantasy world.When you are scrolling through Facebook, keep in mind that generally people give you the highlight reel of their life. Many times people beat themselves up assuming that people are living a better life, it is just not true. We are all human and we all have insecurities and weak points and difficulties. Don’t fall prey to believing the nonsense.
7. Embrace your weaknesses.The strongest of people know their weaknesses. They aren’t ashamed or defensive; they have come to terms with them and do not allow them to take over all of the positives. No one can hold anything against you if you do not hold it against yourself. It is quite empowering to accept the whole you.
8. Take the time you would use to judge yourself (or others) and work on yourself.If we all did this the world would be a different place. But if we can’t change the world, take the time to change your world. All of the energy it takes to talk down to yourself or to talk about others would be much more beneficial to use for motivation towards growing, learning, and becoming a stronger woman.
If there is one thing we can agree on, it is that no one is perfect. If you look within yourself, treat yourself with kind words and treat others with an open heart, life could certainly be a much better place. Do not feel the need to defend and do not feel the need to criticize. Your biggest job is learning to be good to yourself and others!
Happy No Judgement!
Don't let your own negative nancy run your life!
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
We all know working out keeps us physically fit, emotionally more balanced, is a way to be social, so why don’t we go to the gym regularly? We all know smoking is bad for you but why do you go buy a pack when you're stressed? Why do we look at our ex’s Facebook knowing it will make us upset? Skip class instead of just go? Continue to text and drive even though you have swerved your way out of accidents?
It’s that little negative nancy voice in all of us. We all know her. She is the vocie that bargains with you to hit the snooze button instead of hitting the gym. She tempts you to eat another slice and start your diet tomorrow. We all have her, or him and we all listen to it at least sometimes, so how do we drain her out? Sometimes fighting things can make them that much more powerful. You can live with it and still make better choices.
I have tried bargaining with her many times, convincing her I had to go and there were no more excuses, but somehow she would always find a way to win. Until one day I realized that she just isn’t going anywhere.
I will never be excited to go to the gym, or eat a salad, or skip the bread. I will probably always consider skipping work or class when I shouldn’t, or looking at my ex’s Facebook, or want to answer that text while I am driving. And I have come to be ok with that. But I realized, if I am going to live in the now, I have to make my decisions in the moment. I can’t wait for tomorrow, or next week, or the first of the month, to begin my goals. I can’t let that inner voice take over so here is what I do:
When I plan to go to the gym: I physically get myself out of bed, put on my sneakers, and drive to the gym, ignoring all the nasty little suggestions he has about not doing so.
When I want to get over someone:I make a conscious choice to not look at my ex’s Facebook, contact him, or try to run into him or hear about what he's doing.
When I don’t want to text and drive: I put my phone in the backseat.
When I don’t want to smoke: I won’t walk outside with the smokers and I won’t drive to the store to buy them.
When I want to wake up early:I put my alarm on the counter across from my bed so I physically have to get up to turn it off.
These are examples of behavior changes, and despite what my feelings are or what my thoughts are, I am giving myself the power to make the changes needed. We all have that choice -- it’s more powerful then we realize.
In most therapy sessions you will distinguish the pattern of your thoughts leading to your feelings leading to your behaviors. If you are behaving in a way you want to change, you have to look at how you feel and how you think. For example, if you think that it’s too hard to lose weight, you may start to feel depressed, and your behavior may be to eat or just give up. This is a pattern, and you have to look at all three steps to help yourself change.
Like I said, I don’t think I will ever want to go to the gym instead of sleep, so I have to reverse this cycle. Forcing me to get up and put my sneakers on is the behavior. When I get home I feel good, energized, and motivated -- these are my feelings about the behavior. When I think about it, I realize it isn’t really that bad, and now my thoughts are changing because of how I feel. Try it one time, for yourself. Reverse your cycle to behavior leading to feelings leading to your thoughts and see if this makes a difference in your routine or choices.
Remember every one good decision adds up. Every time I force myself to the gym, it’s a step closer to being healthier. Every time I choose not to involve myself in my ex’s business, it’s a step closer to moving on. The bottom line is we all know what's best for us, we just don’t always do what’s best for us. The next time that little voice of yours comes full force simply change your behavior.
Happy getting rid of Negative Nancy!
Create your own happiness: 4 steps of internal balance.
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
Published on Girlsguideto.com
Internal balance is the ability to create inner contentment from the four areas of life you actually have control over. If you have been looking to others for happiness, chances are this has created dependency which leads to various self and relational difficulties. This can range from having trouble finding a partner, unhealthy romantic relationships and unsatisfying friendships. In order to truly commit to someone else, you have to commit to yourself first.
Want a better solution? Take a look at your internal balance. The goal is to have your needs met, by you and only you, so that you can have fulfilling, healthy relationships.
If you find you fall into this category take a look at the four pieces of the puzzle, each of these categories can drastically improve your internal balance which will reflect in your outer being.
1. Social:Friends are a foundation of who we are as a person. Take a closer look at your social life. Are you always out drinking and skimming the surface with people? If so, you may want to consider cutting back and attempting to work toward healthier alternatives. Take a good look at who you choose to be around -- this is generally what you become. At any moment you can decide to change who you are surrounded by, and the depth of friendships you have.
Spend more time with those that have the same values as you, senses of humor, positive thinking, etc. Making some drastic changes in your social life can greatly impact how you feel. Meeting new people is always a fun way to motivate yourself and break out of your comfort zone. If you have difficulty making friends or keeping friends, take a look at why. Pay attention to what you’re giving, and what you’re expecting, and see if you can make healthy adjustments.
The Social Benefit:As humans, we rely on our connection with others, and you want to keep that connection intact. The more you socialize, the more comfortable you will be just being you thus this will attract the right people around you.
2. Spiritual:Spirituality can mean so many different things to each individual person. Whether it ties into your religion, or into your Tuesday yoga class, spirituality is being able to find some sort of inner tranquility. This should be a type of activity that gives you serenity and peace that does not rely on others.
If religion fulfills you, make it a point to practice. If you are purely spiritual, or want to explore spirituality, attend a Zen class or read a book about being in the “now”. If you are neither, challenge yourself to spend some time in nature without technology, take up meditation or listen to music.
The Spiritual Benefit: Whatever it may be that can give you rejuvenation of the mind, discover it, and you will always have this healthy tool to fall back on in times of stress, without having to rely on anyone else or damaging substitutes.
3. Physical: The physical aspect of our lives has such a significant impact on our internal being. Exercise releases serotonin and makes us feel productive. If you despise the gym, don’t give up on this aspect of your life just yet. There are many outdoor activities you can try such as learning how to swim or play tennis, signing up for a marathon, and the list goes on.
Schedule this into your week and make it a point to get it done and you will almost instantly start feeling the internal difference. No one is born a runner; it always takes a first step. Challenge yourself and see what your body can accomplish. If you haven’t done it in a while, start small, take the stairs and walk a little more.
The Physical Benefit:This is such a key role in internal well being, and it is important that you take this on, as it is something you can do now that will create immediate change. This isn’t about weight or looks. This is about restoring a healthy inner energy from physical movement. Exercising our bodies does incredible balancing of the mind.
4. Mental:Constructive mental stimulation that helps your grow plays a very important role. It's exercise for your brain and there are so many ways to broaden your mental capabilities. Some people may get this from work if they are lucky, some may not. Try and figure out what type of mental stimulation you are receiving and what you are in need of.
Maybe this will lead to a career change, or just you following a passion. Some people enjoy board games, reading, cooking, exploring, museums, painting, writing, photography, school...
The Mental Benefit:Our minds feed off of trying something new. Find something you enjoy and begin, sign up for a new class, or learn a new language. Research shows that mental stimulation can help people work longer, live longer, and gives a feeling of having a purpose.
Balance is also extremely important when it comes to these four aspects. You don’t want to socialize 90 percent of the time and leave 10 percent for the rest. You want to try to give them all an equal space. If you realize you have been spending a bit too much time at gym, schedule a date with your girlfriends. If you realize you are going out just a bit too much, add in days for spirituality and relaxation.
These are four specific behaviors we have control over, and once you tackle these areas your internal self will naturally become balanced and thus you will attract people with balance. This will create a healthier connection and bond with yourself and allow you to have relationships without dependency.
Now is the time to take control of your own internal contentment and look at how the four pieces applies to you.
Kind over matter.
Written by Tory L. Eletto, MS, LMFT
Let’s face it; we all have something going on in our lives. If our job is going well, someone in our family isn’t. If our children are listening, our husband is not. If we are finally getting into shape, we get injured. These are small scale examples of course. There are many people facing physical illnesses, mental illnesses, grief of a passed loved one, grief of a divorce, poverty, infertility, and the list goes on and on. Because we all are dealing with our own combination of difficulties, and positive things I hope, try to remember this when you are reacting to others throughout your day. I have two very powerful stories that I have heard that have inspired me and hopefully they will inspire you too.
1.) The first one is a story about a woman who had a really tough day at work in Westchester, NY. Her boss was driving her nuts, her clients were awful all day long, and on her way home from work all she wanted to do was sleep on the train. Next to her, there was a spaced out man with his three small children. The children were all running up and down the train, being loud, annoying, and disruptive. The woman sat there and tried to calm herself down, but she just kept getting more and more frustrated that this father was doing nothing to control the situation. In her mind she kept saying things like “This is so rude”, “Who does this guy think he is?”, “Why wouldn’t he just tell his kids to sit down already?!”As she was thinking these thoughts, her anger grew. She was a minute away from lashing out all of her anger on this man, but just as she was about to he answered his phone. Immediately this was confirming for her how selfish this man really was until she overheard him talking about his wife just passing away moments ago and how they were leaving the hospital and taking the train because he couldn’t drive. The woman‘s heart all of a sudden broke. She was a phone call away from telling this man off. Of course he is in a daze; he is dealing with the very recent death of his wife. This changed her entire perception of what was going on, she realized the kids were acting out because that’s how they were coping with what just happened. Once she was able to get beyond herself and realize what was going on, compassion kicked in. She wondered what kind of unnecessary stress she would have added on both of them if she decided to yell. As she was leaving the train she smiled at the father and said “my heart and prayers are with you today” and he smiled back.
2.) Another story was told to me in a meeting for work. A depressed woman decided that she was going to end her life and that nothing was going to stop her. Nothing of course, unless on her way to an undisclosed bridge, someone, just one person, took the time to smile at her. She drove, looked around, looked at people in their cars, waiting for that someone to just give her a smile that would comfort her enough to make a different choice. That person didn’t come, and apparently the only reason why they knew this was because of a letter she wrote and a few people they later interviewed that remembers her peering into their windows while driving on the bridge with her.
OK so two different stories, both very sad, but the point to share is that an act of kindness can change someone’s day, someone’s life, and promotes positive energy for them and for yourself. We are all so frequently in our own bubble, holding in a lot of our own frustrations with our children, our marriage, our job, that sometimes we are just bubbles waiting to burst. Burst at someone who cuts you off, burst at someone who is taking too long in front of you, but what we need to begin to realize is no one ever knows what someone else is going through. There is probably always a reason or explanation for things. Remember that kindness really does go a long way. Instead of wondering why someone is staring at you, smile. Instead of feeling frustrated that someone cut you off, assume they have somewhere important to go, and let it go. Instead of getting annoyed that someone is taking long, assume there is a reason they are off that day. If you are compassionate inside, you can show compassion outside. And you never know when there will be a day where a nice gesture or smile will change your day.